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What are the penalties for federal cybercrime charges in New York?

By Spodek Law Group | October 16, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 17, 2023)

Last Updated on: 17th October 2023, 05:07 pm

What are the penalties for federal cybercrime charges in New York?

Cybercrime is becoming more and more common across the United States, including in New York. As more aspects of our lives move online, there are increasing opportunities for cybercriminals to illegally access systems, data, and funds. In response, the federal government has passed various laws to crack down on cybercrime by imposing stiff penalties on those convicted.

This article provides an overview of some key federal laws prosecutors use to charge cybercrimes in New York, and the potential penalties defendants face if convicted.

Major Federal Cybercrime Laws

Here are some of the main federal laws used to prosecute cybercrime cases in New York:

  • The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) prohibits intentionally accessing a computer without authorization to obtain data, defraud, or cause damage. Penalties can include fines and up to 20 years in prison, depending on the offense.[1]
  • The Wire Fraud Act outlaws using interstate wire communications to devise schemes to defraud or obtain money or property illegally. This carries penalties of up to $1 million in fines and 20 years imprisonment.[2]
  • The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act prohibits stealing someone’s identity or using their identity fraudulently. Convictions can lead to fines and up to 15 years in prison.[3]
  • The CAN-SPAM Act bans sending spam emails, harvesting email addresses, falsifying headers, and relaying spam. Penalties include fines up to $2 million and up to 5 years in prison.[4]
  • The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) prohibits the unauthorized interception of electronic communications like emails. Violations carry fines and up to 5 years behind bars.[5]

Penalties for Convictions

The penalties for a federal cybercrime conviction in New York vary based on the charges and case specifics. Some key factors determining sentences include:

  • The type of offense – Harsher penalties for crimes like hacking vs. spamming.
  • Scale of damage/harm caused – Major disruption or theft leads to tougher sentences.
  • Defendant’s criminal history – Repeat offenders get lengthier sentences.
  • Acceptance of responsibility – Admitting guilt may result in a lighter sentence.

Potential penalties for some federal cybercrime convictions in New York include:

  • Violating the CFAA – Up to 20 years in prison and hefty fines.[1]
  • Wire fraud – Up to 20 years imprisonment and $250,000 in fines.[2]
  • Identity theft – Up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.[3]
  • Hacking – Up to 10 years imprisonment.[1]
  • Child pornography – Decades behind bars, sometimes 15 year minimum per image.[6]
  • Cyberstalking – Up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

In addition to jail time and fines, a conviction also leads to a permanent federal criminal record which can limit future opportunities. Other consequences may include asset forfeiture, restitution, supervised release, and immigration issues for non-citizens.

Possible Defenses

Skilled cybercrime defense attorneys can sometimes get charges dismissed or reduced by raising strong legal and factual defenses, such as:

  • You had authorization to access the computer or data
  • No criminal intent can be proven
  • Misidentification – someone else used your device or IP address
  • Entrapment by undercover law enforcement agents
  • Unlawful search violating your Constitutional rights
  • Statute of limitations has expired

An experienced attorney will analyze the case details to identify viable defenses to pursue. This provides the best chance at acquittal or a reduced charge.

Consult a Cybercrime Defense Attorney

Facing federal cybercrime charges can be daunting. But an experienced defense lawyer well-versed in cybercrime can protect your rights and build a strong defense. Be sure to consult an attorney as early as possible. Don’t leave your future to chance.


  1. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) | 18 U.S. Code § 1030
  2. Wire fraud | 18 U.S. Code § 1343
  3. Fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents, authentication features, and information | 18 U.S. Code § 1028
  4. Fraud and related activity in connection with electronic mail | 18 U.S. Code § 1037
  5. Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited | 18 U.S. Code § 2511
  6. Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors | 18 U.S. Code § 2252
  7. Stalking | 18 U.S. Code § 2261A

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