Computer Tampering In The Fourth Degree: NY Penal Law § 156.20

by ECL Writer
Criminal possession of computer related material

Unlawful computer access refers to the act of illicitly entering a computer or computer network or providing another individual with unauthorized entry. Unauthorized computer access encompasses various activities, such as discovering someone else’s password and using it to gain access to their computer, sharing a password with an unauthorized user, hacking into a person’s computer through the internet, or assuming another person’s identity to access restricted computer services. If you engage in unauthorized computer access and subsequently modify or delete computer data, you would be deemed guilty of the offense of computer tampering.

In the New York criminal code, there exist four distinct computer tampering offenses. The specific charge you face depends largely on your prior criminal record, the extent of damage caused, and your motive for altering or destroying computer data. The least severe of these charges is computer tampering in the fourth degree, as per New York Penal Law § 156.20. This offense occurs when you access a computer, computer service, or computer network without authorization and intentionally modify or destroy another person’s computer data or program.


Computer tampering in the fourth degree is classified as a class A misdemeanor. In practical terms, this designation implies that upon conviction, the most severe prison sentence you could potentially receive is one year. Additionally, your sentence may encompass a probation period extending to three years and a significant monetary fine.


If you possess evidence demonstrating that someone else accessed your computer without your awareness or consent and then used it to modify or damage content on another computer, it would pose a significant challenge for the prosecutor to proceed with a case against you.

New York Penal Law § 156.20: Computer Tampering in the Fourth Degree

An individual commits computer tampering in the fourth degree when they utilize, instigate the use of, or access a computer, computer service, or computer network without proper authorization, and deliberately modify or destroy computer data or a computer program belonging to another person.

Related Offenses

Hiring a New York Lawyer for Computer Tampering in the Fourth Degree Case

Hiring a New York lawyer for computer tampering in the fourth degree case is imperative when facing this legal challenge. This offense, as defined by New York Penal Law 156.20, involves unauthorized access to computer systems with the intent to commit an offense or gain unauthorized benefits. A skilled attorney can navigate the complex legal landscape surrounding cybercrimes, ensuring a strong defense. They will scrutinize the evidence, challenge its validity, and protect your rights throughout the legal process. New York lawyers experienced in computer tampering cases possess the expertise needed to negotiate plea deals, reduce charges, or secure favorable outcomes, ultimately safeguarding your future.

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