Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 18.2. Crimes and Offenses Generally
8/10/2020

Article 7.1. Computer Crimes.

§ 18.2-152.1. Short title.

This article shall be known and may be cited as the "Virginia Computer Crimes Act."

1984, c. 751.

§ 18.2-152.2. Definitions; computer crimes.

For purposes of this article:

"Commercial electronic mail" means electronic mail, the primary purpose of which is the advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.

"Computer" means a device that accepts information in digital or similar form and manipulates it for a result based on a sequence of instructions. Such term does not include simple calculators, automated typewriters, facsimile machines, or any other specialized computing devices that are preprogrammed to perform a narrow range of functions with minimal end-user or operator intervention and are dedicated to a specific task.

"Computer data" means any representation of information, knowledge, facts, concepts, or instructions which is being prepared or has been prepared and is intended to be processed, is being processed, or has been processed in a computer or computer network. "Computer data" may be in any form, whether readable only by a computer or only by a human or by either, including, but not limited to, computer printouts, magnetic storage media, punched cards, or stored internally in the memory of the computer.

"Computer network" means two or more computers connected by a network.

"Computer operation" means arithmetic, logical, monitoring, storage or retrieval functions and any combination thereof, and includes, but is not limited to, communication with, storage of data to, or retrieval of data from any device or human hand manipulation of electronic or magnetic impulses. A "computer operation" for a particular computer may also be any function for which that computer was generally designed.

"Computer program" means an ordered set of data representing coded instructions or statements that, when executed by a computer, causes the computer to perform one or more computer operations.

"Computer services" means computer time or services, including data processing services, Internet services, electronic mail services, electronic message services, or information or data stored in connection therewith.

"Computer software" means a set of computer programs, procedures and associated documentation concerned with computer data or with the operation of a computer, computer program, or computer network.

"Electronic mail service provider" (EMSP) means any person who (i) is an intermediary in sending or receiving electronic mail and (ii) provides to end-users of electronic mail services the ability to send or receive electronic mail.

"Financial instrument" includes, but is not limited to, any check, draft, warrant, money order, note, certificate of deposit, letter of credit, bill of exchange, credit or debit card, transaction authorization mechanism, marketable security, or any computerized representation thereof.

"Network" means any combination of digital transmission facilities and packet switches, routers, and similar equipment interconnected to enable the exchange of computer data.

"Owner" means an owner or lessee of a computer or a computer network or an owner, lessee, or licensee of computer data, computer programs or computer software.

"Person" shall include any individual, partnership, association, corporation or joint venture.

"Property" shall include:

1. Real property;

2. Computers and computer networks;

3. Financial instruments, computer data, computer programs, computer software and all other personal property regardless of whether they are:

a. Tangible or intangible;

b. In a format readable by humans or by a computer;

c. In transit between computers or within a computer network or between any devices which comprise a computer; or

d. Located on any paper or in any device on which it is stored by a computer or by a human; and

4. Computer services.

"Spam" means unsolicited commercial electronic mail. Spam shall not include commercial electronic mail transmitted to a recipient with whom the sender has an existing business or personal relationship.

A person "uses" a computer or computer network when he attempts to cause or causes a computer or computer network to perform or to stop performing computer operations.

A person is "without authority" when he knows or reasonably should know that he has no right, agreement, or permission or acts in a manner knowingly exceeding such right, agreement, or permission.

1984, c. 751; 1999, cc. 886, 904, 905; 2000, c. 627; 2003, cc. 987, 1016; 2005, cc. 761, 812, 827; 2009, cc. 321, 376; 2010, c. 489.

§ 18.2-152.3. Computer fraud; penalty.

Any person who uses a computer or computer network, without authority and:

1. Obtains property or services by false pretenses;

2. Embezzles or commits larceny; or

3. Converts the property of another;

is guilty of the crime of computer fraud.

If the value of the property or services obtained is $1,000 or more, the crime of computer fraud shall be punishable as a Class 5 felony. Where the value of the property or services obtained is less than $1,000, the crime of computer fraud shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

1984, c. 751; 1985, c. 322; 2003, cc. 987, 1016; 2005, cc. 747, 761, 827, 837; 2018, cc. 764, 765; 2020, cc. 89, 401.

§ 18.2-152.3:1. Transmission of unsolicited commercial electronic mail (spam); penalty.

A. Any person who:

1. Uses a computer or computer network with the intent to falsify or forge electronic mail transmission information or other routing information in any manner in connection with the transmission of spam through or into the computer network of an electronic mail service provider or its subscribers; or

2. Knowingly sells, gives, or otherwise distributes or possesses with the intent to sell, give, or distribute software that (i) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of facilitating or enabling the falsification of the transmission information or other routing information of spam; (ii) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to facilitate or enable the falsification of the transmission information or other routing information of spam; or (iii) is marketed by that person acting alone or with another for use in facilitating or enabling the falsification of the transmission information or other routing information of spam is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. Any person who commits a violation of subdivision A 1 when (i) the volume of spam transmitted exceeded 10,000 attempted recipients in any 24-hour time period, 100,000 attempted recipients in any 30-day time period, or one million attempted recipients in any one-year time period or (ii) revenue generated from a specific transmission of spam exceeded $1,000 or the total revenue generated from all spam transmitted to any EMSP exceeded $50,000, is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

C. Any person who knowingly hires, employs, uses, or permits any minor to assist in the transmission of spam in violation of subsection B is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

2003, cc. 987, 1016; 2010, c. 489.

§ 18.2-152.4. Computer trespass; penalty.

A. It is unlawful for any person, with malicious intent, or through intentionally deceptive means and without authority, to:

1. Temporarily or permanently remove, halt, or otherwise disable any computer data, computer programs or computer software from a computer or computer network;

2. Cause a computer to malfunction, regardless of how long the malfunction persists;

3. Alter, disable, or erase any computer data, computer programs or computer software;

4. Effect the creation or alteration of a financial instrument or of an electronic transfer of funds;

5. Use a computer or computer network to cause physical injury to the property of another;

6. Use a computer or computer network to make or cause to be made an unauthorized copy, in any form, including, but not limited to, any printed or electronic form of computer data, computer programs or computer software residing in, communicated by, or produced by a computer or computer network;

7. [Repealed.]

8. Install or cause to be installed, or collect information through, computer software that records all or a majority of the keystrokes made on the computer of another; or

9. Install or cause to be installed on the computer of another, computer software for the purpose of (i) taking control of that computer so that it can cause damage to another computer or (ii) disabling or disrupting the ability of the computer to share or transmit instructions or data to other computers or to any related computer equipment or devices, including but not limited to printers, scanners, or fax machines.

B. Any person who violates this section is guilty of computer trespass, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any person who violates this section for the purposes of affecting a computer that is exclusively for the use of, or exclusively used by or for, (i) the Commonwealth or any local government within the Commonwealth or any department or agency thereof or (ii) a provider of telephone, including wireless or voice over Internet protocol, oil, electric, gas, sewer, wastewater, or water service to the public is guilty of a Class 6 felony. If there is damage to the property of another valued at $1,000 or more caused by such person's act done with malicious intent in violation of this section, the offense is a Class 6 felony. If a person, with malicious intent, installs or causes to be installed computer software in violation of this section on more than five computers of another, the offense is a Class 6 felony. If a person violates subdivision A 8 with malicious intent, the offense is a Class 6 felony.

C. Nothing in this section shall be construed to interfere with or prohibit terms or conditions in a contract or license related to computers, computer data, computer networks, computer operations, computer programs, computer services, or computer software or to create any liability by reason of terms or conditions adopted by, or technical measures implemented by, a Virginia-based electronic mail service provider to prevent the transmission of unsolicited electronic mail in violation of this article. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the monitoring of the location of a minor or a person with a disability or mental impairment as those terms are defined in § 51.5-40.1 or to prohibit the monitoring of the computer usage of, the otherwise lawful copying of data of, or the denial of computer or Internet access to a minor by a parent or legal guardian of the minor. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require notice to a computer user of the activities of a computer hardware or software provider, an interactive computer service, or a telecommunications or cable operator that a reasonable computer user should expect may occur in the context of a computer user's transaction or relationship with that entity or that are required or specifically authorized by law.

1984, c. 751; 1985, c. 322; 1990, c. 663; 1998, c. 892; 1999, cc. 886, 904, 905; 2002, c. 195; 2003, cc. 987, 1016; 2005, cc. 761, 812, 827; 2007, c. 483; 2017, c. 562; 2020, c. 821.

§ 18.2-152.5. Computer invasion of privacy; penalties.

A. A person is guilty of the crime of computer invasion of privacy when he uses a computer or computer network and intentionally examines without authority any employment, salary, credit or any other financial or identifying information, as defined in clauses (iii) through (xiii) of subsection C of § 18.2-186.3, relating to any other person. "Examination" under this section requires the offender to review the information relating to any other person after the time at which the offender knows or should know that he is without authority to view the information displayed.

B. The crime of computer invasion of privacy shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

C. Any person who violates this section after having been previously convicted of a violation of this section or any substantially similar laws of any other state or of the United States is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

D. Any person who violates this section and sells or distributes such information to another is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

E. Any person who violates this section and uses such information in the commission of another crime is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

F. This section shall not apply to any person collecting information that is reasonably needed to (i) protect the security of a computer, computer service, or computer business, or to facilitate diagnostics or repair in connection with such computer, computer service, or computer business or (ii) determine whether the computer user is licensed or authorized to use specific computer software or a specific computer service.

1984, c. 751; 1985, c. 398; 2001, c. 358; 2005, cc. 747, 761, 827, 837.

§ 18.2-152.5:1. Using a computer to gather identifying information; penalties.

A. It is unlawful for any person, other than a law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-101, and acting in the performance of his official duties, to use a computer to obtain, access, or record, through the use of material artifice, trickery or deception, any identifying information, as defined in clauses (iii) through (xiii) of subsection C of § 18.2-186.3. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

B. Any person who violates this section and sells or distributes such information to another is guilty of a Class 5 felony.

C. Any person who violates this section and uses such information in the commission of another crime is guilty of a Class 5 felony.

2005, cc. 747, 760, 761, 827, 837.

§ 18.2-152.6. Theft of computer services; penalties.

Any person who willfully obtains computer services without authority is guilty of the crime of theft of computer services, which shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the theft of computer services is valued at $2,500 or more, he is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

1984, c. 751; 1985, c. 322; 2003, cc. 987, 1016; 2005, cc. 746, 761, 827.

§ 18.2-152.7. Personal trespass by computer; penalty.

A. A person is guilty of the crime of personal trespass by computer when he uses a computer or computer network to cause physical injury to an individual.

B. If committed maliciously, the crime of personal trespass by computer shall be punishable as a Class 3 felony. If such act is done unlawfully but not maliciously, the crime of personal trespass by computer shall be punishable as a Class 6 felony.

1984, c. 751; 1985, c. 322; 2003, cc. 987, 1016; 2005, cc. 746, 761, 827.

§ 18.2-152.7:1. Harassment by computer; penalty.

If any person, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass any person, shall use a computer or computer network to communicate obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd, lascivious, or indecent language, or make any suggestion or proposal of an obscene nature, or threaten any illegal or immoral act, he is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A violation of this section may be prosecuted in the jurisdiction in which the communication was made or received or in the City of Richmond if venue cannot otherwise be established and the person subjected to the act is one of the following officials or employees of the Commonwealth and such official or employee was subjected to the act while engaged in the performance of his public duties or because of his position with the Commonwealth: the Governor, Governor-elect, Lieutenant Governor, Lieutenant Governor-elect, Attorney General, or Attorney General-elect, a member or employee of the General Assembly, a justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, or a judge of the Court of Appeals of Virginia.

2000, c. 849; 2020, c. 1002.

§ 18.2-152.7:2. Using computer to commit a scheme involving false representations; penalty.

Any person who, without the intent to receive any direct or indirect benefit, maliciously sends an electronically transmitted communication containing a false representation intended to cause another person to spend money, and such false representation causes such person to spend money, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

2020, c. 1178.

§ 18.2-152.8. Property capable of embezzlement.

For purposes of §§ 18.2-95, 18.2-96, 18.2-108, and 18.2-111, personal property subject to embezzlement, larceny, or receiving stolen goods shall include:

1. Computers and computer networks;

2. Financial instruments, computer data, computer programs, computer software and all other personal property regardless of whether they are:

a. Tangible or intangible;

b. In a format readable by humans or by a computer;

c. In transit between computers or within a computer network or between any devices which comprise a computer; or

d. Located on any paper or in any device on which it is stored by a computer or by a human; and

3. Computer services.

1984, c. 751; 2005, cc. 746, 761, 827.

§ 18.2-152.9. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2005, cc. 746, 761, and 827, cl. 2.

§ 18.2-152.11. Article not exclusive.

The provisions of this article shall not be construed to preclude the applicability of any other provision of the criminal law of this Commonwealth which presently applies or may in the future apply to any transaction or course of conduct which violates this article, unless such provision is clearly inconsistent with the terms of this article.

1984, c. 751.

§ 18.2-152.12. Civil relief; damages.

A. Any person whose property or person is injured by reason of a violation of any provision of this article or by any act of computer trespass set forth in subdivisions A 1 through A 8 of § 18.2-152.4 regardless of whether such act is committed with malicious intent may sue therefor and recover for any damages sustained and the costs of suit. Without limiting the generality of the term, "damages" shall include loss of profits.

B. If the injury under this article arises from the transmission of spam in contravention of the authority granted by or in violation of the policies set by the electronic mail service provider where the defendant has knowledge of the authority or policies of the EMSP or where the authority or policies of the EMSP are available on the electronic mail service provider's website, the injured person, other than an electronic mail service provider, may also recover attorneys' fees and costs, and may elect, in lieu of actual damages, to recover the lesser of $10 for each and every spam message transmitted in violation of this article, or $25,000 per day. The injured person shall not have a cause of action against the electronic mail service provider that merely transmits the spam over its computer network. Transmission of electronic mail from an organization to its members shall not be deemed to be spam.

C. If the injury under this article arises from the transmission of spam in contravention of the authority granted by or in violation of the policies set by the electronic mail service provider where the defendant has knowledge of the authority or policies of the EMSP or where the authority or policies of the EMSP are available on the electronic mail service provider's website, an injured electronic mail service provider may also recover attorneys' fees and costs, and may elect, in lieu of actual damages, to recover $1 for each and every intended recipient of a spam message where the intended recipient is an end user of the EMSP or $25,000 for each day an attempt is made to transmit a spam message to an end user of the EMSP. In calculating the statutory damages under this provision, the court may adjust the amount awarded as necessary, but in doing so shall take into account the number of complaints to the EMSP generated by the defendant's messages, the defendant's degree of culpability, the defendant's prior history of such conduct, and the extent of economic gain resulting from the conduct. Transmission of electronic mail from an organization to its members shall not be deemed to be spam.

D. At the request of any party to an action brought pursuant to this section, the court may, in its discretion, conduct all legal proceedings in such a way as to protect the secrecy and security of the computer, computer network, computer data, computer program and computer software involved in order to prevent possible recurrence of the same or a similar act by another person and to protect any trade secrets of any party and in such a way as to protect the privacy of nonparties who complain about violations of this section.

E. The provisions of this article shall not be construed to limit any person's right to pursue any additional civil remedy otherwise allowed by law.

F. A civil action under this section must be commenced before expiration of the time period prescribed in § 8.01-40.1. In actions alleging injury arising from the transmission of spam, personal jurisdiction may be exercised pursuant to § 8.01-328.1.

1984, c. 751; 1985, c. 92; 1999, cc. 886, 904, 905; 2003, cc. 987, 1016; 2005, cc. 746, 761, 827; 2010, cc. 489, 529.

§ 18.2-152.13. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2015, c. 709, cl. 2.

§ 18.2-152.14. Computer as instrument of forgery.

The creation, alteration, or deletion of any computer data contained in any computer or computer network, which if done on a tangible document or instrument would constitute forgery under Article 1 (§ 18.2-168 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of this Title, will also be deemed to be forgery. The absence of a tangible writing directly created or altered by the offender shall not be a defense to any crime set forth in Article 1 (§ 18.2-168 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of this Title if a creation, alteration, or deletion of computer data was involved in lieu of a tangible document or instrument.

1984, c. 751; 1985, c. 322.

§ 18.2-152.15. Encryption used in criminal activity.

Any person who willfully uses encryption to further any criminal activity shall be guilty of an offense which is separate and distinct from the predicate criminal activity and punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

"Encryption" means the enciphering of intelligible data into unintelligible form or the deciphering of unintelligible data into intelligible form.

1999, c. 455.

§ 18.2-152.16. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2004, c. 995.

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