Seriously, your stuffed-full-of-mail strawman is still a strawman, and a rather absurd one at that. Do you think that the NYSE has a little mailslot out in the front door, so that if you send a letter, the postman just tosses it in, and if 9,999,999 others send a letter, they keep piling them in the little slot until they're piling up so much in the hallway that no one can push the front door open with all the mail? Is that really the image that you have in your head?
I have no idea how NYSE handles its mail. I've never been there. I'm making an analogy for the purpose of applying physical intuitions to the problem; the actual physical layout and mail handling procedures of NYSE are irrelevant for that.
I'm surprised you're apparently unaware of the concept - but perhaps I shouldn't be, since you also seem to not know what a strawman is.
The basis of the criminal law is intent: they presumably intended to cause damage to Paypal, and had no legitimate reason for their action. Note that I say *presumably* -- their intent must still be proven to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt.
Not being a court, we can take malicious intent as given, at least for the purposes of this conversation.
This bears no relation to sending a letter of complaint.
"What if I knew those 9,999,999 other people were going to be sending their letters at the same time, and the combined effect would take the exchange down?"
So yes, it does. DDOS is basically several people mailing the victim simultaneously, so that the final volume grows large enough to jam their mailbox.
For most crimes (homicide generally excepted) the attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime is subject to the same penalties as the completed offense.
Right. So sending a few IP packets constitutes as a conspiracy, then? And the crime of taking down a website should be punished by 15 years in jail and half a million dollar fine?