Hacking is a pretty commonplace term today. It is often the term used to indicate when someone has accessed another person or entity's computer or computer system without authorization to do so. Hacking has increased as we in California and throughout the world have come to be more reliant and dependent on the computer for all things personal, professional, and financial.
Unauthorized computer access is illegal. But as obvious as it is illegal, the elements determining it are less so. Penal code §502 PC is California's take on the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, both of which respond to unauthorized computer access in criminal and civil terms.
Due to the increase in this type of crime, law enforcement agencies have been cracking down on it. If you have been charged with an unauthorized computer access offense in L.A. County, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in criminal law related to internet crimes and white collar crimes and who is well-known in the criminal law practice area for aggressive, smart criminal defense.
William Kroger, a criminal defense attorney based in Beverly Hills and serving clients throughout Los Angeles and L.A. County, has been doing this for 20 years. He knows the law, stays current on the changes in the law, knows the court system, and stays active building strategic relationships with others in the criminal system. He will review your case and provide guidance that can help you obtain the best outcome in your unique situation.
Here's what you should know about unauthorized computer access in California. If you still have questions or need legal representation, contact William Kroger's office today.
What is unauthorized computer access according to California law?
According to California penal code §502 PC, unauthorized computer access occurs when a person knowingly accesses and without permission alters, damages, deletes, destroys, or uses any data, computer, or computer system or network and intentionally does so to commit criminal activity, some of which include but are not limited by the following criminal acts:
- execute a plan to defraud, deceive, or extort;
- wrongfully obtain money, property, or data;
- take, copy, or make use of data without permission;
- add, alter, damage, delete, or destroy data, computer software, or computer programs that resided or existed internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network;
- disrupt or cause the disruption of computer services or deny or cause the denial of computer services to an authorized user;
- introduce a computer contaminant -- like a virus -- into a computer, computer system, or computer network.
- use the Internet domain name of another individual, corporation, or entity in connection with the sending one or more electronic mail messages, and thereby damage or cause damage to a computer, computer system, or computer network.
One of the main elements here is knowingly and intentionally committing this type of crime, which must be proven in order for the State to convict you of this type of crime.
What are the penalties for unauthorized computer access in California?
Unauthorized computer access is a “wobbler” offense, which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. The State Attorney has the discretion to determine which classification best suits the crime, depending on the facts of the case and the alleged offender's criminal background.
- When charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant can expect up to one year in jail if convicted.
- When charged as a felony, the defendant can expect up to three years in prison if convicted.
Are there defenses to unauthorized computer access in L.A. County?
Being charged with unauthorized computer access is a serious matter. But it is a defensible one. First, your attorney will consider any constitutional challenges to your arrest. Second, your attorney will consider viable defenses.
One such viable defense is if you were falsely accused. For example, maybe you allow other individuals to use your computer and one of them used it to commit a computer crime without your permission or another person gained access to your computer without your knowledge and did so to commit internet crimes using your identity. There could be a number of like circumstances that could help get the charges dismissed or you acquitted at trial. That's why it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.
Smart, Focused Criminal Defense Attorney in L.A. County
If you are in Los Angeles or L.A. County and have been charged with unauthorized computer access or other online computer crimes, contact us online or call us at 323-655-5700. We can set up a free initial consultation to discuss your case.