Computer Penal Law

 

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Title 5, Chapter 41, Subchapters 1 and 2 (§5-41-100 & 200) of the 2010 Arkansas Code outlines the penal code prohibiting computer crimes in the state. Subchapter 1 is responsible for establishing the criminal law against “computer related crime” which are treated by the state as less serious felonies. Subchapter 2 prohibits “computer crime” and is also generally lenient in terms of overall punishment. There is little provided in Arkansas’s criminal code that really delineates the difference between computer crime and computer related crime.  The most noticeable differences are in the definitions, which are relatively redundant, and the severity of the crime and punishment. One significant difference is the computer crime code mentions language like modifies, damages, destroys, conceals more often than computer related crime code. It may also lead to a more severe punishment as high as a Class A felony which could yield up to 30 years in prison.

When comparing New York States penal code article §156 and Arkansas laws prohibiting computer crimes I noticed they were both rather broad. I was actually surprised that the criminal code in New York only limits 5 different types of computer crimes: trespassing, tampering, unauthorized use, duplication, unlawful possession, and operating an electronic sweepstakes (§156). It is likely that this was intentional, keeping the penal code relatively broad protects the public from a wide variety of attacks. However, being overly vague can be problematic if a law is challenged and voided for vagueness. There is significant mention of intent in both Arkansas and New York’s code commonly used language includes intentionally, knowingly, purposefully. Criminal intent is particularly important in penal law. As cyber-attacks become more common this protects unsuspecting victims from being possibly incriminated in computer crime.

Both states share similar degrees of punishment. The general punishment for a violation of computer penal law in both states constitute a class D/E felony or a Class A/B misdemeanor. The FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report reported a 69% increase in cyber crime complaints from 2019 to 2020 (ICR, 2020,3). This translates to an estimated $4.1 billion in losses during the 2020 fiscal year (ICR, 2020. 3). As computer crimes becoming increasingly more problematic and severe so should the punishments. Creating adequate punishment for cybercrimes at the state level will likely act as a deterrent against the crimes themselves. I think this principle applies to complexity as well. As computer crimes become more sophisticated both states should evaluate their penal code to see if they should be updated.

References

Criminal Defense Lawyer. (N.D.). Arkansas Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences. NOLO. Retrieved from https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/criminal-defense/felony-offense/arkansas-felony-class.htm.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2020). Internet Crime Report 2020. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved from https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2020_IC3Report.pdf,

Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions. (N.D.). Internet Laws and Statutes Arkansas Computer Related Crimes Act. Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions. Retrieved from http://www.internetlibrary.com/statuteitem.cfm?Num=13.

Justia. (N.D.). 2010 Arkansas Code §5-41. Justia. Retrieved from https://law.justia.com/codes/arkansas/2010/title-5/subtitle-4/chapter-41/

Kleinman, L. (2020). Cyberattacks: Just How Sophisticated Have They Become? Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/11/03/cyberattacks-just-how-sophisticated-have-they-become/?sh=437d2ece4c3e.

New York State Senate. (N.D.). Article 156. New York State Senate. Retrieved from https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PEN/P3TJA156  For more information on computer penal law check on this :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IT_law

 

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