Like identity theft crimes, cybercrimes and computer related offenses are becoming more prevalent in New York. In fact, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has a unit, the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, whose main focus is to prosecute this criminal activity. One particular crime, among many, that may be established with relative ease by prosecutors is the crime of Computer Trespass pursuant to New York Penal Law section 156.10. Computer Trespass is defined as follows:
A person is guilty of Computer Trespass when he or she knowingly uses, causes to be used, or accesses a computer, computer service, or computer network without authorization and:
1. he or she does so with an intent to commit or attempt to commit or further the commission of any felony; or
2. he or she thereby knowingly gains access to computer material.
Computer trespass is a class E felony punishable by up to four years in state prison.
Although the crime of Computer Trespass, like all computer related offenses, has specific and special definitions to elements found in the statute, one of the most important terms in this statute is “without authorization” as it is a defense to this crime if a person had reasonable grounds to believe that he or she in fact had authorization to use the computer. See New York Penal Law 156.50(1).
Pursuant to New York Penal Law 156.00(8):
“‘Without authorization’ means to use or to access a computer, computer service or computer network without the permission of the owner or lessor or someone licensed or privileged by the owner or lessor where such person knew that his or her use or access was without permission or after actual notice to such person that such use or access was without permission. It shall also mean the access of a computer service by a person without permission where such person knew that such access was without permission or after actual notice to such person, that such access was without permission.”
“Proof that such person used or accessed a computer, computer service or computer network through the knowing use of a set of instructions, code or computer program that bypasses, defrauds or otherwise circumvents a security measure installed or used with the user’s authorization on the computer, computer service or computer network shall be presumptive evidence that such person used or accessed such computer, computer service or computer network without authorization.”
Computer Trespass, like other cybercrimes, is an offense with serious ramifications. The above statute(s) do not encompass all the nuances and underlying definitions for this crime. Moreover, because cybercrimes and computer crimes are constantly reinventing themselves, a review of applicable case law may be relevant when assessing the viability of the charges against you as well as the potential defenses. Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm. Founded by two former prosecutors who served in the Trial Division, Identity Theft Unit and Special Prosecutions Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Saland Law PC represents clients in white collar and fraud related crimes throughout the New York City region.
For further information on New York Identity Theft and related crimes follow the highlighted link.
For Further information on Computer Trespass and New York computer crimes follow the highlighted link.