New Jersey Computer Criminal Activity Defense Lawyers

Though it is still relatively new, there are seven computer criminal activity crimes under the current New Jersey criminal code. Two of the offenses relate primarily to accessing computers and disclosing information, and are discussed separately under “Wrongful access, disclosure of information (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-31)“. One thing is clear: as time goes on, more and more state task forces have been investigating and prosecuting these offenses successfully, and experienced computer hacking defense lawyers are becoming more important each day.

Unauthorized Computer Criminal ActivityThe five computer-related crimes under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-7 include: (1) Unauthorized Access of Computer, (2) Altering or Damaging Database or Software, (3) Unauthorized Access to Computer, Database or Software to Defraud or Steal from Third Party, (4) Unauthorized Copying of Information from Database, Computer or Software, and (5) Reckless Damage or Destruction of Data from Database, Computer or Software.

Depending on the circumstances of your offense, this may be a first degree crime — the highest gradation of all indictable (felony) crimes in New Jersey. If convicted of one of these first degree crimes, a defendant will face up to 20 years in prison with a 10 year stipulation of parole ineligibility.

“Unauthorized Access of a Computer” Charges in NJ: Fines, Jail Time

For a computer criminal activity crime to occur a person must either accesses any data, database, computer storage medium, computer program, computer software or computer equipment, computer, computer system or computer network. To prove an access or attempted access the state has to prove the defendant knowingly or purposely instructed, communicated with stored data in retrieved data in, made use or attempted to make use of any resources of a computer, computer system or computer network. This offense is a crime of the third degree. If convicted of this offense in third degree, a defendant will face up to five years in prison and significant fines.

“Altering or Damaging Database or Software” Charges in NJ: Fines, Jail Time

The second computer criminal activity offense is committed when an individual purposely or knowingly alters, damages, or destroys any data, database, computer, computer storage medium, computer program, computer software, computer system or computer network, or denies, disrupts or impairs computer services, including access to any part of the Internet, that are available to any other user of the computer services. More often than not, altering involves the introduction of a computer contaminant (i.e. a virus). As a second degree crime, a conviction carries up to ten years in prison and heavy fines.

“Unauthorized Access to Computer, Database or Software to Defraud or Steal from Third Party” Charges in NJ: Fines, Jail Time

The third computer criminal activity crime is committed if a person accesses or attempts to access any data, database, computer, computer storage medium, computer program, computer system or computer network for the purpose of executing a scheme to defraud, or to obtain services, property, personal identifying information, or money, from the owner of a computer or any third party. Services include using the data or software of another. This offense is a third degree crime except that it is elevated to a crime of the second degree if the value of the services, property, personal identifying information, or money obtained exceeds five thousand dollars. If convicted of the latter, the defendant will face up to ten years in prison.

“Unauthorized Copying of Information from Database, Computer or Software” Charges in NJ: Fines, Jail Time

The fourth computer-related offense occurs if the defendant purposely or knowingly obtained, took, copied or used any data, database, computer program, computer software, personal identifying information, or other information stored in a computer, computer network, computer system, computer equipment or computer storage medium. This offense is typically a crime of the third degree.

However, it will be elevated to a crime of the second degree if: (1) the data, database, computer program, computer software or information is or contains personal identifying information, medical diagnoses, treatments or other medical information concerning an identifiable person; or (2) the data, database, computer program, computer software or information is or contains governmental records or other information that is protected from disclosure by law, court order or rule of court; or (3) the data, database, computer program, computer software or information has a value exceeding $5,000.00. As mentioned above, a second degree offense carries up to ten years in prison.

“Reckless Damage or Destruction of Data from Database, Computer or Software” Charges in NJ: Fines, Jail Time

The fifth, and final, computer activity offense occurs when an individual purposely or knowingly accesses and recklessly alters, damages or destroys any data, database, computer, computer storage medium, computer program, computer software, computer equipment, computer system or computer network. This offense is a crime of the fourth degree. It is elevated to a crime of third degree if the damage exceeds $5,000.00.

If you or someone you know is accused of having committed unlawful computer criminal activity in New Jersey, do not hesitate to contact an experienced NJ cybercrime defense lawyer. The computer crime defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are available for a free consultation, 24/7 at 1 (800) 879-9087.

New Jersey’s Penalties for Computer Criminal Activity Convictions

If the victim is a government agency, the sentence imposed upon a conviction for a Computer Criminal activity offense must include a period of imprisonment. The period of imprisonment must include a minimum term of one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed during this term the defendant is not eligible for parole. Alternatively, when a conviction for any computer criminal activity offense involves an offense committed against a person under eighteen years of age, this constitutes an aggravating circumstance to be considered by the court when determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed.

Computer Criminal Activity as a First-Degree Crime

There are three circumstances when these five computer criminal activity offenses are elevated to first degree crimes. The first set of circumstances require that the offense results “in a substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power, or other public service.” The term “substantial interruption or impairment” means an interruption or impairment that affects 10 or more structures or habitations; or lasts for two or more hours; or creates a risk of death or significant bodily injury to any person.

The second set of circumstance which elevates the offense occurs when the offense results in damages or loss in excess of $250,000.00.

Lastly, the third set of circumstances which elevates the offense requires that the offense result in significant bodily injury to a person. “Significant bodily injury” is bodily injury which creates a temporary loss of the function of any bodily member or organ or temporary loss of any one of the five senses.

It is important to note that every sentence of imprisonment for computer criminal activity crime of the first degree committed must include a minimum term of one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed, during which term the defendant is not eligible for parole.