Computer tampering is accessing someone else's computer data or any other information without the owner's consent. It is a crime under Arizona law to access a company or another person's computer data, network, or software without their permission. Computer tampering may not seem like a serious crime like other punishable crimes, but it can damage your reputation and mess up your good history. The criminal act of computer tampering can include damaging, altering, destroying, deleting, or using computer data that doesn't belong to you. You will also be charged if you committed the crime intending to defraud, commit a crime, or harm the computer's legal owner. When you help someone else access another person's data, computer network, or system, you will also be charged if the prosecutor determines you committed the crime intentionally.
With the rise in technology development, so have the crimes increased, including those related to computers. The law enforcement officers are on the lookout to ensure the rate of computer crimes is low and that the criminal faces the charges depending on the crime's seriousness. However, there are elements the prosecutor must prove to convict you for the crime. He or she must prove that you accessed someone else's computer without permission and that you tampered with the computer willingly.
Computer tampering is a criminal act that can be a felony or misdemeanor charge under Arizona law. Felony charges are more severe and can negatively impact your life, especially if you are to face imprisonment. Therefore, you need to hire an attorney if there are computer tampering allegations filed against you. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we are at your service to help build a strong defense against your case.
Definition of Computer Tampering Under Arizona Laws
You will be charged with computer crime in Arizona if:
- You destroy, alter, access, or damage someone else's computer system to execute or commit fraud. You can access the computer by different means. It can be through pretense or making a false promise.
- You delete, destroy, alter or damage a computer data or program knowingly.
- You spread a computer virus into any other computer, network, or computer system intentionally.
- You deny access to the computer's legal owner, or when you disrupt a particular computer system recklessly to make the other party suffer.
- You use someone else's computer, computer network, or computer system to terrorize, threaten, or torment another person.
- For you to be charged for any of the above crimes, you must have caused distress to the computer owner, and you will not have served a legitimate purpose by engaging in any of the above acts.
- You prevent the exit of another computer from a particular website to continue interacting with it without the owner's consent.
- You knowingly obtain sensitive information from the public computer system. You can obtain the information through the system, data, or system, and thus the likelihood of facing felony
- You knowingly access a computer data, network, system, or software without the owner's consent.
- You gave a form of assistance for someone else to access another person's computer without their notice. For you to be accused of the same, you must have done so knowingly and without permission.
- You took information from someone else's computer. Taking the information can be by using an external device data or by copying the information somewhere else where only you can access data or a domain of a particular internet connection that does belong to you to send information that doesn't belong to you
- You were the cause for someone else's computer to be accessed without the owner's permission
Penalties for Computer Tampering
There are computer laws that govern the court to rule out whether you have committed a crime or not. Computer tampering is a wobbler offense. Therefore, it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on how severe the allegations against you are. If you are charged as a misdemeanor convict, you will face imprisonment for up to one year in jail. You will also pay a fine amounting to $5,000. If charged as a felony, you will be put into custody for three years, and you may also be asked to pay a fine amounting to $10,000.
There are various sentences you may face, depending on the seriousness of your crime. Felony convictions are classified depending on your criminal history and the circumstance of your criminal offense. When you are involved in a computer crime that involves a critical resource, you will be charged with committing a Class 2 felony, accompanied by very severe consequences. The following are the penalties that are case-specific:
- When involved in a Class 3 felony, you will spend one year in jail and be put on probation. You can also face imprisonment for 2 to 8 years.
- If convicted of a Class 4 felony, you will face probation and be put in jail for one year. You may also be imprisoned for 1 to 3 years.
- Class 5 felony convictions are punishable by probation and a jail term for up to one year. You may also face imprisonment for six months to 2 years.
- Class 6 felony convictions are punishable by probation and jail terms for up to one year. Imprisonment is also a likelihood, where you may be imprisoned for four months to a maximum of two years.
You will face the above charges if you are a first-time offender. If you have previous computer tampering convictions, you will face increased penalties.
You may be questioning whether computer tampering can lead to deportation if you are a foreigner at the time of conviction. Some crimes make you inadmissible or can lead to your deportation. However, computer tampering cannot lead to any of the above. Your criminal records, though, will remain with the law enforcement authority for record purposes.
Another consequence is that computer tampering can affect your gun rights. If you are found guilty of committing the crime under the Arizona law, you will not be allowed by the law to possess or own a gun. The case applies if you have been charged as a felony convict. If you are charged as a misdemeanor convict, the gun right may not be affected as much. It is important to hire an attorney to increase the chances of having your charges reduced, or the case dropped.
There are other penalties you may face depending on the specifics of the case. Some form of computer tampering may lead to damages to the owner of the computer. In contrast, others involve accessing the information or any other data that doesn't belong to you. The following are the charges you are likely to face depending on case specifics:
Introducing a Virus to Someone Else's Computer
If you introduce a virus into someone else's computer without noticing and spread it to another computer, you will be charged with computer tampering. Whether it is your first time or previous convictions, the crime is punishable by a jail term of 16 months to three years in jail. You may also pay a fine amounting to $10,000.
Accessing Someone's Computer Internet Without Their Consent
The Internet is a service that is usually paid for. When you use it without the consent of the owner, you will be charged with computer crimes. If you are a first time offender, and the services you receive when using the internet is less than $950, the criminal act will be treated as a misdemeanor. If you had previous convictions for the same crime, you would be charged as a felony convict. You may end up facing 16 months to three years in prison. Payment of a fine is also a possibility where you may be required to pay up to $10,000.
Accessing Government Services Information by Using the Computer
It is illegal to access sensitive government information through the computer without permission. If you are a first time offender, the case may be different from facing new charges with previous convictions for the same crime. The prosecutor will charge you as a misdemeanor convict if it is your first time and a felony convict if you have had the same charges previously. The penalties for the above crime are the same as introducing a virus to a computer and accessing their computer without permission. Therefore, you will face a jail term of 16 months to a maximum of 3 years in jail. You will also pay a fine of up to $10,000.
Deleting, Altering, or Taking Any Other Form of Information
If you are found guilty of altering, taking, or deleting information from a computer that does not belong to you, you will be charged with computer tampering. Suppose you copy information from another person's computer. In that case, you will have violated the computer laws, and the punishments will depend on whether you have been charged as a felony or a misdemeanor convict. Therefore, you may face punishments, including facing penalties for one to a maximum of three years.
Legal Defenses to Computer Tampering
When you have been accused of computer tampering, you are sure there are serious charges you will face if you are found guilty. Working with an attorney will help you increase the chances of having the charges against you reduced, or the case can also be dropped. The attorney understands the laws behind computer crimes and will present legal defenses to prove your innocence. Some of the legal defenses your attorney will use in the court of law to defend your criminal acts are:
- You didn't know what you were doing.
- The computer owner permitted you to access the data, network, or any other information.
- You had no intention to defraud the legal owner of the computer.
You Had No Knowledge That You Were Committing a Crime
You will only be charged with computer tampering if you committed the crime intentionally. Your attorney can defend you in court by proving that you were not aware you were committing a crime by accessing another person's computer information. He or she can also defend your case by arguing that you just got to someone's computer by accident. If your attorney presents the legal defense to prove your innocence, your case will be dropped. If you are found guilty of committing the crime, you will be charged, but the charges against you may be reduced.
You Had Consent to Access the Computer
According to Arizona computer crime laws, you will only be found guilty if you tampered with someone's computer without their knowledge. If you had the owner's consent to have the computer and did whatever you did with it, then your charges may be reduced or dropped. If you had no permission, you would be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor convict. Hiring an attorney can present the legal defense in a way that convinces the judge that the owner is the one who allows you to have the computer.
By Accessing the Computer, You Had No Intention to Defraud
You would be convicted of computer crime if you tampered with someone's computer intending to defraud them. If you tricked the owner so that they let you access the computer, you would be charged with computer tampering, and you will face charges depending on the seriousness of the crime you committed. Your attorney can argue that you had permission from the owner to use the computer and that you had no intention to defraud them. If the attorney convinces the judge that you are indeed innocent, then you can have your charges reduced or the case against you dropped. If not, you will either be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.
Can I Expunge My Computer Tampering Criminal Record?
Some laws guide to determine whether a criminal act can be expunged or not. You can expunge your criminal records for computer crimes if you complete your probation or a jail term issued to you. There are instances where you may violate a condition in the probation. The judge can still expunge your computer tampering conviction.
Offenses That Relate to Computer Tampering
There are crimes that you can be charged with if found guilty of computer tampering. The crimes include:
- Credit card fraud
- Grand theft
- Identity theft
Identity theft means you have taken someone else's identity information unlawfully and use it to commit fraud. You can use different ways to commit the crime. It can be through forging the documents or any other illegal way. Identity theft can be a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the number of times you have been convicted. If you have committed the crime using a computer, you will still be charged with identity theft. Identity theft requires a well-experienced attorney to handle your case because the law is stringent on identity theft crimes. After all, it may ruin another's future.
Credit Card Fraud
It is a crime under the Arizona credit card fraud laws to:
- Access or use of someone else's credit card for goods, services, or money
- Commit a fraud with someone else's credit card without their knowledge
Committing the same crime using a computer is a wobbler offense. You can be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on how serious the crime is. To avoid the harsh penalties that may come with the offense, you are advised to hire an attorney to help present strong legal defenses to reduce your charges or drop the case.
According to Arizona law, you will be charged with grand theft if you take someone else's property. The property you will have taken when valued should be more than $950. If the value of the property you have stolen is less than $950, then you will be charged with petty theft.
Types of Computer Crimes
Apart from computer tampering, you can be accused of different types of computer crimes in Phoenix. They include:
- Illegal downloading
- Internet pornography
- Computer hacking
- Internet sex crimes
- Computer crimes done against children
- Child internet solicitation
The above crimes have severe consequences that may change your life. Therefore, if charged with any form of computer crime, you need to have an attorney to build a strong defense. The attorney increases the chances of having your case dropped or charges against you reduced.
Find a Computer Crime Criminal Attorney Near Me
A prison sentence can be a possibility if you have been charged with computer tampering in Phoenix. However, your charges can be reduced, or the case against you dropped if you work with an experienced attorney. The attorney will help you understand your legal rights in a criminal court and build a strong defense for your case.
If you are charged with computer tampering in Phoenix, Arizona, minimize your sentence by contacting the Phoenix Criminal Attorney. We will represent you in the court of law by presenting legal defenses that will increase the possibility of getting your charges reduced or case dropped. Call us today at 602-551-8092 to improve your chances of a win in your case.