Minnesota Cybercrime Law: Stay Informed & Stay Up-To-Date

Cybercrimes are criminal offenses committed via the Internet or through various forms of computer technology, such as cyberbullying, identity theft, hacking, cyberstalking, or money laundering.

Advances in technology have made way for online criminals to find more victims and methods to commit internet crimes. But, they have also provided both police and lawyers with more tools to investigate, prosecute, and defend these crimes.

Identity Theft

Minnesota Statute §609.527

Identity theft occurs when someone transfers, possesses, or uses an identity that isn’t their own. They must have the intent to commit or assist in unlawful activity.

A person who commits identity theft may be sentenced as follows:

Additionally, the court may order the return of property or money to a victim in a process called restitution. In 2008, the Identity Theft Assumption and Deterrence Act was passed to compensate victims of identity theft. The Act authorized courts to issue restitution orders that require payments to victims not only for the harm caused but also for the time they spent fixing the damage caused by the theft. The court will order a person convicted of identity theft to pay restitution of at least $1,000 to each victim.

Crime of electronic use of false pretense to obtain identity

It is a crime to use a false pretense in an email, web page, advertisement, or any online communication with intent to obtain the identity of another.

It is not a defense to this crime if the person committing the offense did not succeed in obtaining the identity of another; did not end up using the identity; or did not result in any loss to another person.

Someone found guilty of committing this offense may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Unlawful possession or use of scanning device or reencoder

It is also illegal to have or use a scanning device or reencoder to obtain information from a credit card without permission. The device can be any apparatus, equipment, or software that is designed or adapted for use as a scanning device or reencoder. The person must have the intent to commit, aid, or abet unlawful activity.

A person that commits this offense may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine up to $10,000.

Computer Damage

Minnesota Statute §609.88

Computer damage includes altering, damaging, or destroying a computer, or distributing a destructive computer program, without authorization and with intent to damage, defraud, or destroy any computer, computer system, computer network, or software.

Anyone who commits computer damage may be sentenced as follows:

Computer Theft

Minnesota Statute §609.89

Computer theft does not only include the theft of a computer itself. It includes computer systems, networks, software, and data. Computer theft occurs when someone intentionally and without permission gains access to, transfers, conceals, or retains possession of one of these systems.

Anyone who commits computer theft may be sentenced as follows:

Unauthorized Computer Access

Minnesota Statute § 609.891

A person is guilty of unauthorized computer access if the person intentionally and without permission attempts to penetrate a computer security system or electronic terminal.

Anyone found guilty of unauthorized computer access will be convicted of a felony and sentenced to imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a fine up to $20,000 if they:

Anyone found guilty of unauthorized computer access will be sentenced to a gross misdemeanor and imprisonment for up to a year and/or a fine up to $3,000 if they:

Anyone found guilty of unauthorized computer access will be sentenced to a misdemeanor and imprisonment for up to 90 days and/or a fine up to $1,000.

Criminal Use Of Encryption*

Minnesota Statute § 609.8912

A person is guilty of criminal use of encryption if they intentionally use or attempt to use encryption to:

_Encryption means any protective or disruptive measure, including cryptography, enciphering, or encoding that:

Anyone found guilty of criminal use of encryption may be and sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine up to $10,000 if the crime is a felony or the person has two or more prior convictions for computer damage, computer theft, unauthorized computer access, or facilitating access to a computer security system

In all other circumstances, the person will be convicted of a gross misdemeanor and may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine up to $3,000.

Facilitating Access To Computer Security System

Minnesota Statute § 609.8913

When someone facilitates access to a computer, they are helping someone else gain access to a computer system. This includes sharing passwords, ID codes, pin numbers, or other confidential information. A person will be convicted of a gross misdemeanor if they know, or have reason to know, that the person they are helping intends to commit a crime.

Cellular Telephone Counterfeiting

Minnesota Statute §609.894

Cellular telephone counterfeiting occurs when a person knowingly possesses a cloned cellular telephone.

Cellular counterfeiting in the third degree occurs when a person knowingly possesses a cloned cellular telephone.

This crime is a gross misdemeanor.

Cellular counterfeiting in the second degree occurs when a person knowingly possesses any telephone cloning paraphernalia or any instrument capable of intercepting or manipulating electronic serial numbers, mobile identification numbers, other identifiable data, or a combination of those items.

A person found guilty may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to three years and fined up to $7,000, or both.

Cellular counterfeiting in the first degree occurs when a person knowingly possesses or distributes any telephone cloning paraphernalia or any instrument capable of intercepting or manipulating electronic serial numbers, mobile identification numbers, or a combination of those items, and encourages or solicits other persons to engage in cellular counterfeiting.

A person found guilty may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years and fined up to $10,000, or both.

These provisions do not apply to law enforcement officers, public officials, agents, or employees who engage in conduct prohibited in this section for the purpose of law enforcement or in the normal course of employment duties.

Other crimes committed with electronic technology

There are many other crimes that involve the internet or a technological device.

Credit card fraud

Credit card fraud occurs when someone orders something online through a website using a credit card number that is not theirs and without permission.

For using a card without its owner’s consent, using a fake card, forging or signing documents for card transactions, or retailers or business owners that provide or don’t provide items of value fraudulently:

If the defendant has a prior conviction for robbery, burglary, theft, forgery, or check fraud within the past five years, they will be sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine up to $10,000.

For selling a card or possessing two or more fake cards or cards issued to others, the penalty is up to three years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.

For providing false information to receive a card or public assistance benefit or for claiming a card has been lost or stolen:

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying occurs when someone sends intimidating, threatening, abusive, or harming content that is offensive to another person over electronic communication.

Obscene or harassing phone calls are a misdemeanor, and penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both.

Harassment is handled through court-issued restraining orders. Besides paying for the victim’s court fees, the defendant will face penalties for violating the restraining order if the defendant does not stop harassing the victim. Often, penalties include a sentence of imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine up to $3,000.

If the violation was motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or age, then the offense is a felony. The offender may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine up to $10,000.

Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is the repeated use of electronic communication to harass or frighten someone.

Stalking may either be punished as a gross misdemeanor or felony depending on the conduct involved in the offense.

If the defendant is found guilty of a gross misdemeanor, they may face imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine up to $3,000.

By contrast, if a defendant is found guilty of a felony, they may face imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine up to $10,000.

What should I do if the police want to access my device?

Often, the police use electronic technology to gather proof of various crimes, including cell tower information to determine if someone was in the vicinity of a crime.

The police may ask for permission to access your phone or computer. You should not agree to do so until you have talked to an attorney. This is a right that is protected under both the Minnesota and U.S. Constitutions.

If the police get a search warrant to search your device, you don’t have to give them your password. But, recent case law holds that the court can have you provide a fingerprint or facial recognition to open a device. We advise you not to use these methods of security on your phone and to instead create complicated passwords.

If you have been charged with a cybercrime or have questions about cybercrimes, call Bruno Law at (763) 545-7900 or send us a message.


Related Articles and Resources:

The Consequences of Criminal Sexual Cybercrimes

The Expansion of Federal Cybercrime Laws and How it Affects You

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