California laws criminalize the unauthorized taking or copying of data and information from a computer, computer system, or computer network. For example, this type of computer crime might apply to an individual who takes computerized business records from an organization, or an employee who copies work product from an employer's computer network without permission.
A computer crime under § 502 may be charged as a misdemeanor for the first violation if, 1) It does not result in injury, and 2) The value of the computer services used does not exceed $950. A misdemeanor computer crime (not involving a minor and sexual conduct) is punishable by fine up to $5,000, and/or up to one year in county jail.
If more than $950 in value is involved, a crime of internet fraud may be charged as a felony, punishable by 16 months, two years or three years in county jail and/or by a fine of up to $10,000.
Internet fraud, also known as cyber-crime, did not exist as a crime several decades ago. However, internet or computer crime is now a huge source of criminal and law enforcement activity in California and throughout the United States. Internet crime is not a single offense. Instead, it's a blanket term that describes several different crimes that all involve use of the internet or computers. Some of these can be prosecuted under California law in California state courts. Others are federal crimes. Some are both California and federal crimes and may be prosecuted in either California or in federal court.
Other types of computer crime focus on access made to introduce a computer virus or contaminant for harmful purposes. Luring a minor for an unlawful sexual encounter and child exploitation crimes (child pornography) are also crimes often involving use of a computer and/or the internet.