You’ve always had a knack for technology. So when you needed a little cash, it was just too tempting to hack into the company computer and help yourself. You figured you’d never get caught, but now the police have charged you with computer fraud.

In Illinois, you commit computer fraud when you knowingly access a computer intending to defraud someone or take their money. This could be as simple as emailing a scam. Computer fraud can also be committed through destroying someone’s computer or altering or deleting their programs while intending to deceive or defraud someone.

If you accessed the computer as part of a scheme to defraud, you can be charged with a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail. If you destroyed or deleted programs, you can face a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in jail. Stealing money via computer is a Class 4 felony if you take less than $1,000, a Class 3 felony if you take $1,000 to $50,000 and a Class 2, punishable by 3 to 7 years, if you take more. The State may also seize your property. There is also a substantial risk of federal charges if interstate fraud is alleged.

If you are charged with computer fraud, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with anyone in person or in cyberspace. Anything you post can be used as evidence against you.

An experienced criminal law attorney can evaluate your case in order to present the best possible defense. The computer fraud statute requires that the crime be committed knowingly and with intent to defraud. As with other crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps you lacked the necessary intent to commit the crime. This is a relatively new area of law, and prosecutors may be reluctant to bring a case to trial when confronted with an aggressive defense.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

Source: 720 ILCS 5/17-50. See: Computer Fraud Statute.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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