September 20, 2023 | Indiana Law
Hacking is a serious problem in the United States. Hackers find more creative ways to mimic legitimate individuals and companies to trick people into letting them into their computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. Additionally, the tools hackers use to gain unauthorized access are more sophisticated and harder to stop.
What Constitutes Hacking Under the Law?
Illegal hacking occurs when someone unlawfully accesses a computer or system. It also includes intercepting electronic transmissions that are not intended for the person.
The government may use hackers to gain access to cell phones or computers to intercept messages, calls, and data with a warrant or according to other legal authorities. This type of hacking is often referred to as ethical hacking.
Absent legal authority to access a person’s cell phone, it is illegal to hack someone’s cell phone in Indiana.
Federal Laws Against Hacking Someone’s Cell Phone in Indiana
Federal and state laws make it illegal to access someone’s cell phone without permission. Federal laws that address hacking cell phones include:
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)
The Stored Wire Electronic Communications Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act are referred to together as the ECPA of 1986. The ECPA protects oral, wire, and electronic communications stored on computers, in transit, or being made. It applies to telephone conversations, email, and electronically stored data.
Therefore, the laws together protect someone from unauthorized access to your phone calls, text messages, emails, and instant messages. Your blogs, social media accounts, and data stored in the cloud are also protected from hacking. The government or law enforcement agencies would need a subpoena, special court order, or search warrant to obtain information legally.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)
The CFAA was enacted in 1986 to prohibit hacking into computers of American financial institutions and the federal government. Over the years, the CFAA has been expanded to make it illegal to hack into almost any computer in the United States, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, and desktops. It protects against a wide range of hacking activities, including password theft, extortion, computer fraud, and unpermitted access to information.
Penalties for violating federal hacking laws are severe. The penalty depends on the person’s criminal history and the specific charges. All penalties have a prison term of at least one year, but some federal crimes carry a five to ten-year prison sentence for a first offense.
State Laws Regulating Hacking
States have also enacted laws that prevent hacking. Indiana Code §35-43-2-3 makes it unlawful for someone to access another person’s property without their consent. The law includes accessing computer systems and networks, including parts of either system.
Systems include hardware, equipment, and software. Networks are the connections between computers that allow electronic data transmission. A violation of state law is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries up to one year in jail and fines.
What Should I Do if I Am Accused of Hacking Someone’s Phone in Indianapolis, IN?
You could be charged with multiple crimes for hacking into someone’s phone, depending on the circumstances. Related crimes for hacking into someone’s phone could include stalking, conspiracy, distributing confidential information, ID theft, wire fraud, and white collar crimes.
There are several defenses to hacking into someone’s phone that could apply. The prosecutor has the burden of proving all of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, including intent.
A skilled Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer might be able to prove that you did not have an intent to hack into someone’s phone. For example, you inadvertently hacked into someone’s phone by forwarding a message with a link that allowed the hacking without knowing the message contained the link.
Other defenses could include violations of your civil rights, such as illegal searches and seizures. We might argue that you had permission to access the person’s phone or a good-faith belief you had permission. In some cases, a person might be falsely accused of the crime by the alleged victim, or there is a case of mistaken identity.
The first thing to do is contact an experienced Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Talking with law enforcement officers and investigators without legal counsel is a mistake. The things you say could be very damaging in court.
An attorney investigates the charges against you, analyzes the evidence the state has, and gathers evidence to use during your defense. Involving a criminal lawyer as early as possible in your case dramatically improves your chances of achieving the best possible outcome.
Contact the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Indianapolis
101 W Ohio St #2000
Indianapolis, In 46204