Computer Crimes: What Are They and When Can You Face Charges?

When you are facing criminal charges in Rochester, you could ultimately be facing charges because of alleged actions that occurred on the computer. While many people assume that they are free to use home or work computers as they see fit, there are a wide variety of criminal charges under New York State law and federal law that can arise out of particular uses of the internet or a particular computer. Our Rochester criminal defense lawyers want to provide you with more information about the types of offenses that may fall under the broader category of computer crimes both in New York and according to federal statutes.

Common Types of Computer Crimes Under New York State Law

New York Penal Law includes many different types of computer crimes that involve broader offenses such as theft and sex crimes, and these offenses can often be charged as misdemeanor or felony crimes. Most computer-related crimes are white collar offenses. The following are some examples of commonly charged computer-related offenses, which usually fall under New York Penal Law Section 156 (“Offenses Involving Computers”).

  • Unauthorized use of a computer (Section 156.05): When a person “knowingly uses, causes to be used, or accesses a computer, computer service, or computer network without authorization.”
  • Computer trespass (Section 156.10): When a person “knowingly uses, causes to be used, or accesses a computer, computer service, or computer networking without authorization” and either does it in an attempt or with the intent to commit a felony, or in doing so “knowingly gains access to computer material.” This is the offense that is typically charged when a person is accused of hacking.
  • Unlawful duplication of computer related material (Sections 156.29-156.30): When a person unlawfully copies or reproduces or duplicates computer material, including personal records, with the intent of committing a crime. This crime can be charged in relation to various white collar crimes, including fraud.

There are additional computer-related offenses that can be charged under different laws in New York, including grand larceny (New York Penal Law Article 155) and identity theft (New York Penal Law Article 190). In other words, when certain types of theft involve computer use, these can be understood broadly as computer crimes.

Federal Laws and Computer Crimes

Various types of computer-related crimes can also result in charges under federal law. Many types of fraud, as well as computer sex crimes, involve the use of a computer. Wire fraud, health care fraud, and other federal white collar fraud offenses frequently involve the use of computers and may be described as computer crimes or cyber crimes. Computer fraud is also a specific offense unto itself (18 U.S.C. Section 1030(a)(4)). Many federal theft offenses also involve computers. Identity theft, for example, is often perpetrated through computer use and is charged as a form of fraud under 18 U.S.C. Section 1028.

Many federal sex crimes charges, particularly those involving the possession or distribution of child pornography, are computer crimes.

Seek Advice from a Rochester Defense Attorney

When you are facing any type of computer-related charges, whether under New York state law or federal law, you should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney in Rochester who can help you to understand the specific elements of the offense and the best defense strategy for your case. Contact King Law to get help from a defense lawyer today.


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