Individuals who access computer systems without permission can face criminal charges under California Penal Code Section 502(c): Unauthorized Computer Access and Fraud. PC 502(c) charges cover many different acts that can be difficult to understand on your own.
Fortunately, you can use this article to review the different applications of PC 502(c) charges. You can also review the impact of a conviction for unauthorized computer access and fraud with the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group.
Actions That Can Lead to PC 502(c) Charges
We mentioned that many actions can lead to unauthorized computer access and fraud charges in California. In fact, PC 502(c) charges can be used to prosecute individuals who:
Alter, Damage, Delete, or Destroy Computer Information
Any individual who knowingly accesses data, a computer, a computer system, computer software, computer programs, or a computer network to make unauthorized changes can be charged under PC 502(c). Individuals should only be convicted if they carried out these actions to:
- Carry Out a Scheme Intended to Deceive, Extort, or Defraud Someone
- Gain Access to – or Control of – Data, Property, or Money
Take, Copy, or Make Use of Computer Information
Charges can be brought against any individual who accesses a computer system or network to copy or use data or supporting documentation. This charge can apply if the data or documentation is held internally or externally in a computerized system.
Change Computer Services
PC 502(c) charges can apply if someone:
- Uses Computer Services or Causes Them to Be Used
- Disrupts or Causes the Disruption of Computer Services
- Denies or Causes the Denial of Computer Services
- Provides or Assists in Providing Access to Computer Services
- Accesses or Causes to be Accessed Computer Services
These acts should only lead to criminal charges if they are not authorized.
Damage a Computer System
Individuals could damage a computer system through the use of a contaminant, like a virus. They could also face charges for using someone else’s Internet domain name to send emails that result in damage to a computer system.
Penalties for Unauthorized Computer Access and Fraud Convictions
Acts of unauthorized computer access and fraud can result in severe repercussions in California’s court system. Depending upon the exact circumstances surrounding a PC 502(c) charge, an individual could end up facing the following penalties for a conviction:
- Fines of Up to $10,000
- Prison Time of Up to Three Years
The specific penalties used to address PC 502(c) violations may depend upon:
- The Accused’s Previous Criminal History
- The Monetary Losses Associated with the Unauthorized Computer Access and Fraud
Other Fraud Charges in Los Angeles
Fraud can be harshly punished in California, no matter what form it takes. Some common examples of fraud can include:
All of these white-collar crimes can result in high fines and lengthy periods of incarceration.
Potential Defenses for PC 502(c) Accusations in California
Building a defense for unauthorized computer access and fraud charges can be easier if you work with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. Getting professional assistance right away can allow your lawyer to construct a solid defense for you. Based on your situation, a legal professional could show that:
You Didn’t Knowingly Access a Computer System Without Authorization
Computer systems and networks can be incredibly complicated. Sometimes, users end up accessing data or systems they are technically not supposed to reach. However, if you had no intention of accessing these systems and you weren’t attempting to commit fraud, you shouldn’t be convicted under PC 502(c).
You Were Mistakenly Charged with Unauthorized Computer Access and Fraud
It can be difficult to correctly identify the perpetrator of computer related crimes. Often, an individual’s electronic trail can be difficult to trace, leading to wrongful accusations. You can get help on your side if you were unjustly accused of a PC 502(c) violation.
Your Actions Fell Within California’s Employment Exception
PC 502(c) includes an exception for people who are accessing computer systems while on the job. Performing necessary job tasks should not lead to unauthorized computer access and fraud charges in the state of California.
Stand Up to PC 502(c) Charges with a Criminal Defense Lawyer
You can build a defense for California Penal Code Section 502(c): Unauthorized Computer Access and Fraud charges by contacting the Simmrin Law Group now. It’s easy to reach us when you need legal advice. Just call (310) 997-4688 or complete our online contact form to speak with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer
We can begin offering you the legal guidance you need right now with a FREE consultation.