Sure, people do it all the time in TV shows, but if you log in to someone’s computer,computer data or computer network without permission, you’re committing a crime in California. And it doesn’t matter if you were actually try to defraud someone or otherwise commit a crime. Fortunately, you can fight this crime. If you have been accused of illegally accessing someone’s computer, please call a lawyer as soon as possible.
California’s computer privacy law is very broad and encompasses everything thing from industrial espionage to unauthorized logging on to someone else’s computer; so while it seems obvious that logging into an HR representative’s computer to change your hourly wage in the system would be illegal, it might surprise most people to know that hacking into a spouses’ Facebook profile to see if he or she is cheating is also against the law. You could even be charged if you weren’t the one who actually broke into the system, but helped someone else do so. For example, if you work in the IT department and have access to everyone’s login passwords and then give someone a password to someone else’s computer knowing they are going to access it without permission, you also would be guilty of breaking the law. If you aren’t sure if you would be breaking the law and feel you have a valid reason to access someone’s computer or their data without their direct permission, a lawyer can help evaluate your specific situation.
Unauthorized computer access can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the specifics of the crime. A Felony charge carries a sentence of up to three years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000, while a misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of $5,000. A top defense lawyer can help you decide if it is better to fight the charges or to work on a plea bargain to minimize your potential sentence.
If you have been charged with illegally accessing someone’s computer or computer data without permission, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with top criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Marcie Casas