Computer Tampering In The Second Degree: NY Penal Law § 156.26

by ECL Writer
Criminal possession of computer related material

If you engage in unauthorized access to a computer and subsequently modify or obliterate computer data or a computer program, you will be deemed to have committed the offense of computer tampering. Unauthorized computer access encompasses various actions, such as deciphering another individual’s password to gain entry to their computer, providing a password to someone who lacks the authority to access the computer, hacking into another person’s computer through the internet, or assuming another person’s identity to gain access to computer services that would otherwise be off-limits to you.

According to New York Penal Law § 156.26, you can be charged with the crime of computer tampering in the second degree if you knowingly access a computer, computer service, or computer network without permission and intentionally modify or destroy computer data or a computer program belonging to someone else under the following conditions:

  • The damages surpass $2,000.
  • The computer material contains identifiable individuals’ medical records, and as a result of the alteration or destruction, those individuals endure serious physical injury, and you were conscious of and ignored the substantial risk of such serious physical injury occurring.


Computer tampering in the second degree is classified as a class D felony. In the event of a conviction, the maximum potential prison term stands at 7 years. Moreover, your sentence may encompass a probation period lasting up to 5 years and the imposition of a significant fine.


In accordance with the computer tampering statute, a viable defense to this charge would be that you had a reasonable belief in the authorization to modify or delete the computer data. Additionally, another defense could involve proving that you were not the individual responsible for altering or destroying the material. For instance, if the prosecution’s case relies on evidence that an individual accessed the computer from an IP address linked to you, and it can be demonstrated that someone else used that IP address without your awareness or consent to manipulate or destroy material on another computer, the prosecutor may face challenges in convincing the court of your guilt.

New York Penal Law § 156.26: Computer Tampering in the Second Degree

An individual can be charged with computer tampering in the second degree when they commit the offense of computer tampering in the fourth degree and intentionally modify or destroy:

  • Computer data or a computer program in a manner that leads to damages totaling more than three thousand dollars.
  • Computer material containing records of the medical history or medical treatment of a specific or easily identifiable individual or individuals. As a consequence of this alteration or destruction, these individuals sustain severe physical injury, and the offender is cognizant of and deliberately ignores a substantial and unreasonable risk of such serious physical injury occurring.

Related Offenses

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

Hiring a New York lawyer for a Computer Tampering in the Second Degree case is essential when facing serious allegations. This offense involves unlawfully accessing computer data or systems with the intent to commit a felony. In New York, the penalties for this crime can be severe, including imprisonment and fines.

A skilled attorney is crucial to mount a strong defense. They will assess the evidence, ensuring it was lawfully obtained, challenge the prosecution’s case, and protect your rights. Additionally, they can negotiate with prosecutors and explore potential plea deals to minimize the consequences.

Your attorney’s expertise in cybercrime laws and experience in New York courts will be invaluable in navigating the legal complexities of your case, providing the best possible defense to protect your future.

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