For the past two decades, unauthorized computer access has been deemed a serious offense. Offenses associated with this unlawful access encompass entering a computer or computer network without authorization with the intention to commit felonies like grand larceny, illicitly copying digital material, or wrongfully altering or destroying data. According to New York Penal Law § 156.30, unlawful duplication of computer-related material in the first degree occurs when you duplicate computer data without consent, and the material contains identifiable medical records, provided:
- You deliberately diminish the owner’s economic worth or benefits by more than $2,500.
- You harbor an intent to commit any felony.
It’s noteworthy that the term “computer” in the New York criminal code has a precise definition. As per New York Penal Law § 156.00(1), a computer pertains to any device employing a computer program to autonomously carry out arithmetic, storage, and other operations on computer data. This definition also covers devices enabling data storage, retrieval, or communication with other computers or devices, encompassing not only desktop and laptop computers but also handheld gadgets like smartphones and tablets.
Since unlawful duplication of computer-related material in the first degree is categorized as a class E felony, a conviction may result in a maximum prison term of 4 years. Alternatively, the judge has the discretion to impose a 5-year probation sentence instead of incarceration.
To run afoul of this statute, it’s imperative to note that you not only need to have duplicated computer material without authorization but also that such duplication either deprived the owner of an economic benefit surpassing $2,500 or was carried out to advance a felony. If the prosecutor cannot establish either of these aspects, it could present challenges for the prosecution in pursuing a case against you.
New York Penal Law § 156.30: Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material in the First Degree
Unlawful duplication of computer-related material in the first degree occurs when an individual, without the proper authorization, copies, reproduces, or duplicates in any way:
- Any computer data or computer program, with the deliberate and improper intent to deprive or take away an economic value or benefit from the owner exceeding $2,500.
- Any computer data or computer program with the intention to engage in, attempt, or facilitate the commission of a felony.