Obtaining Information by Unauthorized Computer Access Defense Attorneys

Within the United States Code § 1030 is the federal offense of Obtaining Information by Unauthorized Computer Access. Specifically, the statute is referred to as 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2), and it happens to be one of the most common of all the subsections of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prosecuted by the Federal Government. Depending on your prior criminal record, a conviction under this offense could expose you to ten years of incarceration in Federal prison.

What is Obtaining Information by Unauthorized Computer Access?

For an individual to be convicted of obtaining information by unauthorized computer access, the Federal Prosecutor’s are required to prove certain elements. Specifically, the prosecutor must first show that the defendant intentionally accessed a computer without authorization or exceeded authorized access. Furthermore, the prosecution must show that as a result of this access, the accused also obtained information contained in certain financial records,  information from any department or agency of the United States, or information from “any protected computer”.

Obtaining Information by Unauthorized Computer Access – 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)

[Whoever]  . . .

(2) intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access, and thereby obtains–

(A) information contained in a financial record of a financial institution, or of a card issuer as defined in section 1602(n) of title 15, or contained in a file of a consumer reporting agency on a consumer, as such terms are defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.);

(B) information from any department or agency of the United States; or

(C) information from any protected computer;

 

What is a “Protected Computer” Covered by 18 U.S.C. § 1030?

To be found guilty of Obtaining Information by Unauthorized Computer Access under the CFAA, the computer accessed must be a “protected computer”. But what does that really mean?

The term “protected computer” has been given extraordinarily broad meaning, both by statute and the subsequent precedent case law that followed. “Protected computer” is defined by 18 U.S.C. § 1030(e)(2) as any computer (A) exclusively for the use of a financial institution or the United States Government, or, in the case of a computer not exclusively for such use, used by or for a financial institution or the United States Government and the conduct constituting the offense affects that use by or for the financial institution or the Government; or (B) which is used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or communication, including a computer located outside the United States that is used in a manner that affects interstate or foreign commerce or communication of the United States.

If you or someone you know has been charged with Obtaining Information by Unauthorized Computer Access, it is highly advisable to contact a cybercrime defense attorney immediately. The cybercrime lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can be reached 24/7 at 1 (800) 879-9087 for a free, no-obligation case consultation. Call today.

 

What are the Penalties for Obtaining Information by Unauthorized Computer Access?

As is the case with most federal crimes, the penalties for a conviction are very serious. The severity of the penalty will vary depending upon the circumstances of the offense and the defendants prior criminal record. For first time offenders under this act, they could face a fine and a term of imprisonment up to one year.

Alternatively, this penalty will increase to five years of incarceration for first time offenders if: (i) the offense was committed for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain; or (ii) the offense was committed in furtherance of any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State; or (iii) the value of the information obtained exceeds $5,000. Lastly, the term of imprisonment will increase to ten years for defendants who have been convicted of a prior offense under this act.

(Related Information: Computer Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: Sentencing Guidelines)