California Penal Code 502(c) PC

PC 502(c) – Unauthorized Computer Access & Fraud

PC 502(c) - Unauthorized Computer Access and Fraud

Unauthorized Computer Access & Fraud – Table of Contents

Computer Fraud & Abuse Act

California Unauthorized Computer Access & Fraud Penal Code 502(c) is also known as the “Unauthorized Computer Access and Fraud Act”, and makes it a unlawful to access a computer, data, software, service or a computer network without permission, usually with the intent to defraud, cause harm or commit a crime.

EXAMPLE 1: A high school student hacks into his school computer network from his teacher’s computer with a stolen password and changes his GPA from a 1.8 to a 4.0.

And unlike other fraud crimes in California, you can still be found guilty of Penal Code 502(c) even if you don’t end up defrauding someone of money or property.

EXAMPLE 2: A hacker breaks into a bank’s computer network and steals thousands of customer’s credit card numbers, personal data and login credentials. He never actually did anything with the stolen data but it is believed that he intended to sell the data on the dark web.

Unauthorized Computer Access & Fraud Penalties

Unauthorized Computer Access & Fraud is considered a “wobbler“, so it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances and the seriousness of the alleged crime.

If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties are:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail
  • $5,000 in fines

If charged as a felony, the penalties are:

  • Up to 3 years in prison
  • $10,000 in fines

What the State has to Prove

Before you can be convicted of violating Unauthorized Computer Access & Fraud Penal Code 502(c) the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you KNOWINGLY and without permission, did one of the following:

  • Altered, damaged, deleted, destroyed, or otherwise used any data, computer or computer system or network in order to devise or execute a scheme or artifice to defraud, deceive, extort, or wrongfully control or obtain money, property, or data.
  • Took, copied, or made use of data from a computer, computer system, computer network, or unlawfully copied system documentation.
  • Used or caused to be used computer services you were unauthorized to use.
  • Added, altered, damaged, deleted, or destroyed data, computer software, computer programs, or computer services that resided or existed internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network.
  • Provided or assisted in providing means of accessing a computer, computer system, or computer network.
  • Accessed or caused to be accessed a computer, computer system, or computer network
  • Introduced a computer contaminant (virus) into a computer, computer system, or computer network.
  • 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.

Potential Defenses for Unauthorized Computer Access & Fraud Penal Code 502(c)

You were wrongly accused

Sometimes with these types of cybercrimes you may find yourself ensnared in a police trap when you haven’t done anything wrong, and there is simply no criminal intent on your part.

Blissfully Unaware

You did not act knowingly

Proving that you acted knowingly generally requires prosecutors to undergo extensive investigations to gather enough evidence. If you have a compelling argument with evidence that counters their argument that you did not act knowingly, then you might get them to dismiss or reduce the charges.

Call Us

There are multiple ways to defend a case involving Penal Code 502(c), but each case requires knowledge of the details. It’s best to consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer regarding your case.

We Want to Help

If you or a loved one is being charged with “Unauthorized Computer Access and Fraud”, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office located in Century City, or by phone.

Our experienced and assiduous Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.

Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529

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How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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