The area of tech-based and computer crimes is one expanding at an incredible rate, but Arizona legislators have tried to keep up with the pace of technology and those who use it for improper means through a number of statutes. Among these are A.R.S. §13-2316, which deals with “Computer Tampering”; A.R.S. §13-2316.01, which criminalizes “Unauthorized Possession of an Access Device”; and A.R.S. §13-2316.02, which penalizes the “Unauthorized Release of Proprietary or Confidential Computer Security Information.” Due to the great harm that can come from computer crimes, Arizona punishes hacking and similar activity with serious penalties. Thus, if you have been charged with a computer-related crime, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer to guide you through the justice system.
It is important to note that these crimes involve a lot of detail and charges may vary depending on the situation. This web post provides a general overview, but you can get specific answers to your questions by contacting DM Cantor at 602-737-2812 or by using our confidential contact form.
The first of these charges, Computer Tampering, is defined in A.R.S. §13-2316 and addresses what is often referred to simply as “hacking” — entering a computer system in a manner exceeding their authority to rightfully do so, in order to recklessly or knowingly destroy, damage, alter, delete, or disrupt system data. This charge can be applied in a variety of contexts, such as where someone uses a computer to terrorize another person, or where a disgruntled employee attempts to destroy important data as a parting shot at the company. The law provides a broad grant for securing jurisdiction over defendants, as the crime may be charged in the Arizona county where the data is stored, where the target computer is located, or where the offending computer was used. Additionally, conviction can result in either a class four (4), three (3), or two (2) felony, the last of which is reserved for crimes involving “critical infrastructure resource” computer systems, such as those for power grids.
A.R.S. §13-2316.01, which addresses Unauthorized Possession of an Access Device, is charged against someone knowingly “possessing, trafficking in, publishing or controlling an access device” without consent and with intent to use or distribute the device. The intent can be presumed where a person is in possession of five (5) or more devices. Possessing up to four (4) devices results in a class six (6) felony, while possessing at least five (5) but fewer than 100 devices results in a class five (5) felony, and possessing more than 100 devices results in a class three (4) felony.
Finally, Unauthorized Release of Proprietary or Confidential Computer Security Information is described in A.R.S. §13-2316.02. This charge arises where a person is found to be “communicating, releasing or publishing proprietary or confidential computer security information, security-related measures, algorithms or encryption devices” relating to a network, computer system, or computer, without permission of the owner. The statute provides exceptions for the release of such information in certain situations, such as to research and develop security measures, so the target is those who attempt to distribute security information to hackers in an attempt to access computers or systems. This charge is a class six (6) felony unless the information is for a critical infrastructure resource, which increases the charge to a class four (4) felony.
Potential Punishments for Computer Crimes
Computer-related penalties are quite serious; a class two (2) felony charge may result in between three (3) and twelve and a half (12.5) years in prison, or up to a year in jail and probation. Having one prior conviction increases the prison range to between four and a half (4.5) years to twenty-three and a quarter (23.25) years. Having two prior convictions increases the prison term range to between ten (10) and thirty-five (35) years.
Meanwhile, the class three (3) felony conviction sentencing range begins at between two (2) years and eight and three quarters (8.75) years in prison, with increases for previous convictions. First-offense class four (4) felony prison sentences carry a prison term of between one (1) year and three and three quarters (3.75) years, while first-offense class five (5) felonies carry potential sentences of between six (6) months and two years, six months (2.5 years) in prison. The first-offense range for class six (6) felonies is between four (4) months and twenty-four (24) months in prison.
Potential Defenses for Computer Crimes
We will vigorously fight for your rights and may assert a number of defenses on your behalf, including lack of intent to produce the type of results (such as destruction of data) listed in the statutes, or that your identity was used by a hacker without your knowledge. Our experience helps us understand the technology behind hacking attacks so we can help defend you effectively.
We may also assert more general defenses such as Miranda rights violations (including confessions made as a result of force or trickery) and denial of access to counsel. We can also dig into the investigative work of the police to find forensic flaws, improper testing, misleading or inaccurate reports, and other issues.
DM Cantor features many former prosecutors who have unique insight into the criminal justice system. We also have an extensive database of computer forensic experts that we can call on to defend your case. All of the firm’s attorneys are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®, and the firm has the highest Martindale Hubbell® rating of AV®. Furthermore, Mr. Cantor is designated as a Certified Criminal Law Specialist per Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. For more information about our firm and a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer, call 602-737-2812 or use our confidential contact form.