The first step in understanding this particular category of crimes is to understand what a computer actually is according to state law. A computer, as defined by §156.00 of the New York Penal Code, is any device which—by manipulation of electronic, magnetic or other impulses—with a computer program, can automatically perform arithmetic, logical, storage, or retrieval operations with computer data.
While many of these terms have their own definitions, in today’s technological age, a computer is more than merely the box in your office or the laptop in Starbucks. In fact, a computer could be in your pocket right now doubling as your cell phone or your MP3 player. The next question is whether the computer is the target of the crime or the computer is being used as a means to perpetrate a particular.
Either way, law enforcement can use the same tools, like search warrants, preservation letters, subpoenas, and even tracking devices, to investigate the crime.Types of Computer Crimes
The first category of offense is where the computer itself is the target of the offense. Such an example would be unauthorized use of a computer. As defined by §156.05, this crime occurs when an individual accesses a computer without permission to do so. This might be as straight forward as a person seeking names, dates of birth or social security numbers of other people stored on an office computer.
Although the computer is password protected, the person manages to bypass the protection and get access to the system and the personal identifying information. Unauthorized use of a computer is an A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year and jail. There are also more serious offenses such as computer tampering in the first degree, which is punishable by up to 15 years state prison.
This offense merely requires that a person use or causes to be used a computer or computer service without a right to do so and intentionally alters or damages computer data or a computer program, and subsequently causes damage exceeding $50,000. The second type of offense that is often described as a computer crime is one where the computer is the tool used to perpetrate the crime.
For example, an individual might use a computer to create fraudulent identifications or counterfeit currency or credit cards. This is not necessarily a “computer crime,” but would be at minimum, criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second or first degree, which are both felonies. In these cases, the resulting crime may be just as severe, and it often makes little difference if a computer was used.Call Tilem & Associates, PC for Help
Because of the growing trend of crimes in this area and the sophistication by which people commit these crimes, law enforcement spends a great deal of energy and money investigating and prosecuting them. With tools that enable investigators to easily retrieve deleted data from a person’s computer and secure emails without the owner of the account knowing, it is important to retain experienced counsel.
Contact our White Plains criminal defense office today at (877) 377-8666 to set up a free consultation.