Over the last two decades, there has been a significant surge in computer and internet-related crimes. Many of these offenses involve the unauthorized access to another individual’s computer. These transgressions encompass activities such as illicitly entering a computer or computer network with the intent of committing a felony, like grand larceny, or to copy, alter, or destroy computer data or programs. According to New York Penal Law § 156.29, one could be charged with the offense of second-degree unlawful duplication of computer-related material if they duplicate computer material without authorization, specifically when the material pertains to medical records.
It is crucial to highlight that in the New York criminal code, the terms “computer,” “computer data,” and “computer material” are precisely defined. According to New York Penal Law § 156.00(1), a computer is any device that employs a computer program to perform automatic arithmetic, storage, and other operations on computer data. This definition also encompasses devices that facilitate the storage, retrieval, or communication of data to or from other computers or devices. This broad definition covers not only traditional desktop and laptop computers but also handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Furthermore, New York Penal Law § 156.00(3) outlines “computer data” as information that is either currently being processed or has been processed by a computer. “Computer material” refers to property consisting of computer data or computer programs that meet one of the following criteria:
- Contains medical records of easily identifiable individuals.
- Contains government-maintained records that include any information allowing the identification of an individual, and such disclosure is prohibited by law.
- Is intended exclusively for the person in rightful possession and not for public access.
Unlawful duplication of computer-related material in the second degree is categorized as a class B misdemeanor, which means that upon conviction, you may face a maximum sentence of three months in county jail. Alternatively, the judge has the discretion to opt for probation as an alternative to incarceration.
In order to breach this statute, it is essential that the copied material contains identifiable individuals’ medical records. If the records have been anonymized or rendered anonymous in some manner, this could serve as a potential defense against the charge. Another viable defense would be demonstrating that you had obtained proper authorization to duplicate the records.
New York Penal Law § 156.29: Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material in the Second Degree
An individual commits the offense of unlawful duplication of computer-related material in the second degree when, without lawful authority, they replicate or duplicate computer material in any manner. This computer material must contain medical records pertaining to an identified or easily identifiable individual or individuals, and the act must be done with the intention of facilitating or advancing the commission of any crime defined within this chapter.
- Unauthorized use of a computer: N.Y. Pen. Law § 156.05
- Computer trespass: N.Y. Pen. Law § 156.10
- Criminal possession of computer related material: N.Y. Pen. Law § 156.35
Hiring a New York Lawyer For Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material in the Second Degree Case
Hiring a New York lawyer for unlawful duplication of computer-related material in the second degree case is a critical step in ensuring a robust legal defense. This offense involves unauthorized copying of digital assets, which can lead to serious legal consequences. New York attorneys experienced in cybercrime and intellectual property law are essential to navigate the complexities of such cases. They will examine the evidence, challenge its validity, and protect your rights throughout the legal process. Your lawyer will work to establish a strong defense, whether through technical arguments or negotiations, with the ultimate goal of minimizing penalties or securing an acquittal, safeguarding your reputation and future.