California Penal Code Section 502(c) PC: Unauthorized Computer Access And Fraud

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimecomputer fraud

Within the last few decades, the Internet has become increasingly important in almost all aspects of life. People and businesses now turn to the Internet for their banking, shopping, and almost all other needs. However, the rise of e-commerce has come with an increased number of people using the Internet to commit fraud and other crimes. Legislators have tried keeping up with this ever-evolving area, and have enacted laws such as California Penal Code Section 502(c) PC which prohibits unauthorized computer access and fraud.

Unauthorized computer access and fraud under California Penal Code Section 502(c) PC occurs in the following situations:

  1. The defendant knowingly accessed and without permission altered, damaged, deleted, destroyed, or otherwise used any data, computer or computer system or network.

  2. The defendant did so in order to devise or execute a scheme or artifice to defraud, deceive, or extort.

  3. OR the defendant did so in order to wrongfully control or obtain money, property, or data.

  4. OR the defendant knowingly accessed and without permission took, copied, or made use of data from a computer, computer system, or computer network

  5. OR the defendant knowingly accessed and without permission took or copied supporting documentation, whether existing or residing internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network.

  6. OR the defendant knowingly and without permission used or caused to be used computer services.

  7. OR the defendant knowingly accessed and without permission added, altered, damaged, deleted, or destroyed data, computer software, or computer programs that resided or existed internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network.

  8. OR the defendant knowingly and without permission disrupted or caused the disruption of computer services or denied or caused the denial of computer services to an authorized user of a computer, computer system, or computer network.

  9. OR the defendant knowingly and without permission provided or assisted in providing means of accessing a computer, computer system, or computer network in violation of this law.

  10. OR the defendant knowingly and without permission accessed or caused to be accessed a computer, computer system, or computer network.

  11. OR the defendant knowingly introduced a computer contaminant into a computer, computer system, or computer network.

  12. OR the defendant knowingly and without permission used the Internet domain name of another individual, corporation, or entity in connection with the sending of one or more electronic mail messages, and thereby damaged or caused damage to a computer, computer system, or computer network.
2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. Credit Card Fraud - California Penal Code Section 484e PC

  2. Identity Theft - California Penal Code Section 530.5 PC
3. Examples

A man hacks into a local bank’s computer system and introduces a monitoring device that records the passwords and financial account information for all customers using the bank’s online banking services. The man gathers this information and sells it on black market websites. This man could be prosecuted for unauthorized computer access and fraud in violation of California Penal Code Section 502(c) PC.

4. Defenses to Unauthorized Computer Access and Fraud

There may be circumstances where the defendant may be falsely accused of this offense, such as where their computers were used by another person or they have a computer virus that allows others to access their computer to commit Internet Fraud. In these cases, the defendant would have a valid defense if charged criminally.

5. Penalties

Unauthorized computer access and fraud is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the criminal history of the defendant and the specific facts of the crime. If charged as a felony, the defendant can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant can be sent to jail for up to a year.

6. Criminal Defense for Unauthorized Computer Access and Fraud Cases

Unauthorized computer access and fraud is a serious offense that can carry significant penalties for those convicted. If you are under investigation or have been charged with this offense, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who knows how to effectively defend charges of this nature.

For more information about unauthorized computer access and fraud, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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