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Criminal Possession of Computer Related Material

In New York, the crime of criminal possession of computer related material prohibits unauthorized copying of certain types computer data so that someone other than the owner of the data can benefit. There are three elements of criminal possession of computer related materials:

  1. Possession of computer data or programs with knowledge;
  2. The computer data was replicated, copied, reproduced, or transcribed in some manner that constituted the crime of unlawful duplication of computer related material; and
  3. Intent to benefit the defendant or someone other than the owner.

Criminal possession of computer related materials is a class E felony with a maximum penalty of 4 years in prison, a $5000 fine, or both.

If you or someone you love has been accused of criminal possession of computer related materials call the tough and aggressive New York computer crimes defense attorneys at Tilem & Associates today. Our office offers free consultations.

The legal meaning of benefit is different from the ordinary meaning. Legally speaking, benefiting for purposes of criminal possession of computer related materials means more than earning money. Case law supports the theory that “benefits” may include using data in a new job, learning from new data and programs, saving time, or merely intending to re-sell the stolen data without achieving the sale.

People who have committed the following acts have been convicted of criminal possession of computer related material: A consultant copying confidential files that his consulting job gave him access to, which he forwarded to his new employer; copying smartphone data with the intent to make cell phone clones; and copying of a law firm’s email, client data, and employee data and retaining it for one’s benefit.

The data possessed by the defendant must have been copied or acquired in violation of the crime of unlawful duplication of computer related material, which is discussed here. Essentially, this means that the prosecution must accuse and prove a crime within a crime, which is helpful because a statutory defense to unlawful duplication charges is available.

If someone has reasonable grounds to believe that they had permission to replicate, copy, or duplicate the data or programs that serves as a statutory defense to unlawful duplication of computer related materials. The reasonable grounds defense is particularly strong because once raised; the prosecution must rebut the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Defense counsel must cast doubt on the prosecution’s arguments. Establishing a reasonable basis for permission to copy computer data is a fact-based defense. Fact-based defenses are only as strong as the attorney presenting the facts. Attorneys who argue fact-based defenses need a great deal of trial experience like the skilled New York criminal defense attorneys at Tilem & Associates.

People convicted on charges of criminal possession of computer related material may be able to get their convictions sealed. In a case where a court agreed to seal someone's record, the court justified their decision because the person had not re-offended in 15 years, had lived a life that was productive and stable, and had no prior criminal record. Additionally, the prosecution had not thoroughly documented the harms that the person caused. Tilem & Associates may be able to help someone seal their conviction of criminal possession of computer related materials if their case is similar to the one formerly described.

Call the tough and aggressive New York computer crimes defense lawyers at Tilem & Associates today if you or someone you love has been accused of criminal possession of computer-related materials. Our office offers free and friendly consultations over the phone or in-person.

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