Computer Trespass: NY Penal Law § 156.10

by ECL Writer
Criminal possession of computer related material

Unauthorized access to a computer encompasses a variety of actions, including the unauthorized acquisition and use of someone else’s password to enter their computer, sharing a password with an unauthorized individual to gain entry to a computer, infiltrating a computer via the internet through hacking, or assuming another person’s identity to access computer services that would typically be off-limits to you. These activities are considered criminal offenses. The New York criminal code outlines several offenses related to unauthorized computer access. The specific charges you may face depend largely on your actions and intentions once you have accessed the computer. According to New York Penal Law § 156.10, you commit computer trespass if you knowingly access a computer, computer service, or computer network without permission and either:

  • Do so with the intent to commit a felony, or
  • Knowingly gain access to computer data.


If found guilty of computer trespass, classified as a Class E felony, your potential sentence could entail up to a 4-year imprisonment, a probationary period of 5 years, and financial penalties.


To secure a successful prosecution for a criminal trespass charge related to computer access, the prosecutor must establish not only that you unauthorizedly entered a computer but also that you did so with the intention of committing a felony or actually obtained material from the computer. If your actions were limited to merely accessing the computer without any further unlawful activities, a computer trespass charge would not be warranted.

Furthermore, it is essential for the prosecutor to prove that you were the individual who illicitly accessed the computer. If someone other than you used your computer to engage in a computer-related offense without your knowledge, prosecuting you for computer trespass or any other computer-related crime becomes significantly more challenging.

New York Penal Law § 156.10: Computer Trespass

An individual is deemed to have committed computer trespass if they knowingly employ, instigate the use of, or enter a computer, computer service, or computer network without proper authorization and: 1. They do so with the intent to engage in, attempt, or aid in the commission of any felony; or 2. They knowingly obtain access to computer data through this action.

Related Offenses

Hiring A New York Lawyer Computer Trespass Case

When facing a computer trespass case in New York, hiring a skilled lawyer is paramount. A knowledgeable attorney can navigate the complex legal landscape of cybercrime, ensuring your rights and interests are protected. They will analyze the evidence, scrutinize search warrants, and build a robust defense strategy. With expertise in state and federal laws, they’ll work to mitigate potential penalties, which can be severe, including imprisonment and fines. Your New York lawyer will guide you through the legal process, negotiate with prosecutors, and aim to secure the best possible outcome, striving to protect your reputation and future.

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