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What is the required intent for computer crimes?

Simply charging someone with a crime does not automatically mean they will eventually be found guilty in a criminal trial. The prosecution must prove their case, which means they must prove all the charged elements. For internet crimes, this includes proving the mental intent to prove the crime in question.

In Ohio, the mental state required for prosecution of computer crimes is "knowingly." The laws differentiate between a misdemeanor, a lesser offense, such as sending spam, and a felony computer crime, such as unauthorized use of computer property. Unauthorized use of computer property can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the crime.

But, what does knowingly mean? This means the accused must have some form of mental intent that corresponds with the crime being committed. Whereas some forms of mental intent do not require that the accused intended that the consequences take place, with regards to computer crimes in Ohio this is necessary. The person must have been almost certain that their actions will achieve the illegal result.

So, for unauthorized use of computer property, the accused must have known that the property is not theirs. And, they are not authorized to use it. In Ohio, one can also be convicted of an attempt to use it, even if they do not end up using it.

The prosecution must demonstrate the mental intent, and an aggressive defense strategy should consider ways to discredit their account. It might be beneficial to consult an experienced attorney to explore possible options to pursue when facing white collar criminal charges.

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