The particular law in the California penal code that we’re going to be looking at in this post, unauthorized access to a computer, is a bit trickier than some of the other laws that we’ve looked at so far. This is because you can be charged with the crime even if you don’t use that computer you don’t have access to in order to defraud someone. But maybe we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let’s first look at a couple of definitions, the punishments involved, and some of the legal defenses that you can use when it comes to the charge of unauthorized access to a computer. Let’s get started with those definitions, shall we?
Definitions of Unauthorized Access to a Computer
This law is also known as the Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, and it’s considered to be an important internet fraud act in the state of California. What this law basically does is make it illegal to access a computer, data on a computer, or even a network on a computer without permission, and most often with some sort of unlawful purpose. Like we said before, you can actually be charged with this crime even if you’re not accessing the computer in order to defraud someone. So there are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to this law, so that you don’t find yourself on the receiving end of a conviction. While this might all seem a little overwhelming, we’re going to break the charge down further into the punishments and legal defenses. So first of all, before we get into the possible legal defenses, let’s take a look at what kind of punishments you might be facing if you end up getting charged with this crime.
Punishments for Unauthorized Access to a Computer
The punishments for this law ultimately depend on which specific section of the law you violated. The most serious forms of violation for this law count as wobblers, which as you might remember from previous posts basically means that this charge can be convicted as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. In terms of actual penalties for the charges, the misdemeanor is punished with a county jail sentence of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $5,000. The felony is punished with a sentence of sixteen months, two, or three years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Legal Defenses for Unauthorized Access to a Computer
While lawmakers are really cracking down on cybercrime, and these charges are relatively harsh as a result, many of the people who are charged under this law are actually innocent, or else didn’t know that what they were doing constituted a crime. That being said, there are a few legal defenses you have at your disposal. These include claiming that you have been wrongfully accused and/or that you didn’t act knowingly and instead did this by accident. So while these charges are strict, you have a few ways to dismiss or reduce your charges.
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So as you can see, the letter of the law isn’t quite so daunting to deal with once you break it down into simple terms and get to understand the meaning behind the complicated language. That said, if you’re facing some kind of legal trouble or feel like you might be dealing with legal problems in the near future, you should get in touch with us right away. We’ll help you out.
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