Connecticut Computer Crimes Lawyer
As Connecticut lawmakers continue to chase technology, they try their very best to pass laws to protect Connecticut against cybercrimes and cybercriminals. However, lawmakers always seem to be just a few steps behind the latest trends in cybercrime. So for now, Connecticut police and prosecutors will enforce Computer Crime laws as it is presently codified in CGS 53a-252. It is a broadly written and liberally enforced body of criminal laws which cast a wide, catchall net over any crimes involving a third party’s computer. This makes it easy for police to arrest people for Connecticut Computer Crimes, and even more challenging for the best attorneys to fight them in the Connecticut criminal courts.
Fortunately, many top Connecticut criminal lawyers have invested time and resources into learning these laws and fighting these charges in criminal courts throughout the State of Connecticut. Being arrested for a Connecticut Computer Crime can be overwhelming. As with any criminal arrest in Connecticut, your first move should be to contact a top Connecticut Computer Crime attorney. Get in front of your Connecticut Computer Crime case by seeking legal help. Understand your rights and take the first step in getting your case disposed of or dismissed altogether.
What Kind of Conduct Constitutes a Computer Crime under Connecticut Criminal Law?
As any of the best Stamford criminal lawyers will tell you, there are typically 5 ways to commit a Computer Crime under the definitions set forth in CGS 53a-251. Under the Connecticut Computer Crime law, it is illegal for you to engage in any of the following activities:
(1) Unauthorized Access to a Computer System,
(2) Theft of Computer Services,
(3) Interruption of Computer Services,
(4) Misuse of Computer System Information, and
(5) Destruction of Computer Equipment.
Engaging in just one of the above categories of conduct is enough to get you arrested in Connecticut for a Computer Crime. The police must also determine whether it is a felony or misdemeanor arrest. This usually depends on the alleged amount of monetary damage to the computer or the value of the property or computer services taken. Before understanding the different degrees of computer crime, however, it is important to understand exactly how each category of Computer Crime conduct is defined under the letter of the Connecticut criminal penal code.
What Does Unauthorized Access to a Computer System Mean?
You can be guilty of this category of Connecticut Computer Crimes when you access any computer or computer system when you know you were not authorized to do so. Unauthorized access may occur not only while physically using a single computer but may also occur while using its software or accessing the computer remotely through a computer network. This includes stealing passwords or breaking through a password-protected file or desktop. Top criminal lawyers in Connecticut see this charge come up in nasty divorces, where snooping spouses in Connecticut hack into their spouse’s computer to read emails, steal sensitive data and images, and plant viruses to wreak havoc on their spouse’s computer and electronic files. Remember, however, to be guilty of a Computer Crime, not only do you have to access a computer without permission, but you have to cause some kind of damage to the computer.
Can I Be Charged With Theft of Computer Services?
Theft of computer services occurs when a person accesses or uses a computer with the intent to obtain computer services or information. While some computer services may still be free of charge on the internet, a fair majority of online software requires some form of payment. Hacking into a computer without permission to steal services without paying for them can therefore result in a Connecticut Computer Crime arrest.
What is Interruption of Computer Services?
As the best Connecticut Computer Crime lawyers can verify, one of the most frequent scenarios in Computer Crime prosecutions concern the intentional infection and proliferation of computer viruses onto a computer system. Prosecutors aggressively investigate any intentional spreading of viruses onto a computer system, especially when the conduct is intentional and meant to disrupt or cripple a business. While an accidental dissemination of a computer virus is still technically a Connecticut Computer Crime, it is not usually prosecuted if there was not underlying intent to cause damage to a computer or network. However, if Connecticut Computer Crime detectives and prosecutors believe the virus was spread intentionally, then they will not hesitate to arrest you and hold you financially responsible for all of the financial damages caused by the virus, which can quickly escalate into the thousands of dollars.
Is Misusing Computer System Information a Crime?
Another category of Computer Crime conduct is when you either (1) cause an unauthorized display of data or photos taken from a computer, or (2) intentional or recklessly alter, delete, damage, destroy, intercept, receive, add or remove data intended for use by a computer system without the owner’s permission. Yet again, this is another broadly written subsection of Computer Crime law which can lead to your arrest even if you inadvertently receive or intercept stolen data or photos.
Destruction of Computer Equipment
While this category is straightforward, you should realize that this category of Computer Crime covers any kind of destruction, alteration, or damage to a computer or computer network. Notably, this subdivision does not require intent on the part of the accused—it could be caused by reckless conduct as well.
Can You Really Be Charged with a Connecticut Computer Crime for Sending a Virus?
Yes. You can be arrested for a Connecticut Computer if you cause computer equipment to be damaged or destroyed without permission through a virus or otherwise. More shocking is that you may still be charged even if you did not intend to send the virus to another person. Connecticut criminal law places the responsibility on the sender to know and understand the nature of your actions when you receive or accidentally send a virus. So do not open strange attachments in your email and do not install hardware or software onto your personal or work computer without thoroughly identifying and knowing the sender and also knowing the purpose of the communication.
What Are The Different Degrees of Computer Crimes?
Under Connecticut criminal law, Computer Crimes can be charged as a felony in three different degrees. Top criminal lawyers know that the degree charged depends exclusively on the monetary amount of damage done to the computer, or the value of the property or computer services taken.
The Felonies: Computer Crime in the First, Second & Third Degrees
You can be arrested in Stamford Connecticut for CGS 53a-252 Computer Crime in the First Degree if you commit one or more of the five computer crimes above and the cumulative damage to the property or the computer services affected exceeds $10,000. It is the most serious Computer Crime and is therefore designated as a Class B Felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $15,000 and probation. An arrest for Computer Crime in the Second Degree under CGS 53a-253 occurs when the damage to the property or the computer services affected exceeds $5,000. It is a Class C Felony, carrying up to 10 years in prison, a maximum $10,000 fine, and probation. 53a-253.
The least serious felony is an arrest in Stamford or Greenwich for Computer Crime in the Third Degree as defined in C.G.S. 53a-254 when the damage to the property or computer services exceeds $1,000, or when you recklessly engage in conduct which creates a risk of serious physical injury to another person. Computer Crime in the Third Degree under 53a-254 is a Class D Felony and is punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a maximum $5,000 fine, and probation.
The Misdemeanors: Computer Crime in the Fourth & Fifth Degrees
Arrests for misdemeanor Connecticut Computer Crimes can occur when the value of the damaged property falls below a certain monetary threshold. Computer Crime in the Fourth Degree under CGS 53a-255 is charged when the value of the damaged equipment is between $501 and $1000. It is a Class A misdemeanor and those arrested for Fourth Degree Computer Crime face up to one year in jail, a $2000 fine and probation. Computer Crime in the Fifth Degree per CGS 53a-256 is a Class B misdemeanor and is charged by Connecticut police when the value of damage or services is $500 or less. It carries a maximum 6 month jail sentence, $500 fine and probation.
Fighting Connecticut Computer Crime Arrests & Charges
The best criminal attorneys and lawyers know there are many ways to fight a Connecticut Computer Crime arrest. In many of these Computer Crime categories, it can be an affirmative defense if you had permission to access the computer. For example, if you were hired or asked to repair or examine the computer system, and then something goes wrong which causes damage to the computer, then you challenge your arrest in Connecticut for committing a Computer Crime. Thus, consent becomes a critical defense to a Connecticut Computer Crime, and it is subjective—that is, if your top Connecticut criminal lawyer can prove you reasonably believed you were entitled access the computer, then you may be able to win your case. Many of the best criminal lawyers also see Computer Crime arrests trumped up between competing business owners who accuse each other of industrial espionage in the form of sabotaging their competitor’s computer system. This is another opportunity to fight a Connecticut Computer Charge—as criminal judges and prosecutors do not like to get involved in civil disputes. If your Connecticut criminal lawyer can convince law enforcement that your case is truly a civil matter, then you may be able to get your charges dropped.
If you are charged with a Connecticut Computer Crime in First, Second or Third Degree, then your case is often serious enough to warrant a forensic examination of the computer evidence. The Mark Sherman Law criminal attorneys will closely examine the computer equipment at issue—often alongside one of our digital forensic investigators who have received special training and education on how to break down a heavy-handed and overblown Computer Crime case. We make the police produce the physical evidence for inspection. We never take the word of police forensic examiners—often finding their lab reports and findings to be done in haste and with a bias for confirmation of their suspicions, rather than a search for unbiased information related to the accusations. Additionally, our “two-attorney” review guarantee ensures that at least two of our firm’s criminal lawyers will review each police report in your case for errors, omissions, and constitutional defects which could sometimes result in a quick resolution or dismissal of your Computer Crime charges.
Be Careful of Peer-to-Peer Downloading and Free Downloads of Software
Finally, one last word of caution as it pertains to downloading free music and movies, especially in the context of Connecticut’s Computer Crime laws…the days of free music, movies, (legal) pornography, and software downloads are over. Connecticut’s state and federal Computer Crime detectives have dialed up their civil and criminal prosecutions of individuals who illegally download music, movies and pornography through computer networks without paying for it. Peer-to-peer networks (P2Ps) like LimeWire, FrostWire, Shareaza, and BearShare are the most popular playgrounds for illegal downloaders. They are also the stomping ground for people trading and sharing illegal child pornography in Connecticut, making it even more likely that Connecticut computer crime detectives are monitoring these websites. So visit and use these P2P websites at your own risk, and know that you can be arrested for a Computer Crime charge or Possession of Child Pornography in Connecticut if you are caught illegally downloading material.
Removing Your Connecticut Criminal Online Arrest Report from the Internet
Let’s fast forward to the time after you have won your case or had your Computer Crime arrest dropped and dismissed after successfully completing a first time offenders diversionary program. Ask any of our criminal lawyers and they will list online police blotters as being one of the biggest problems for their clients who had their Connecticut criminal cases dismissed. Once an arrest for a Computer Crime—or any other felony or misdemeanor—has been dismissed (either by verdict or a first time offenders diversionary program), Connecticut law requires that the case be “erased” and dismissed by operation of law. The court and the arresting police department are then ordered to destroy all arrest records, fingerprints, and photographs of your arrest. Yet online newspapers and media entities are still publishing your dismissed arrest online for the whole world to see. A leader in this area of law, the Mark Sherman Law Firm is taking a stand against the continued online publication of erased and dismissed arrests in Connecticut. In fact, The New York Times covered the Mark Sherman Law Firm’s ongoing battle against media giants to make changes in this area of law. To learn more, contact a Mark Sherman Law internet scrubbing attorney today to see if it is possible to remove your dismissed Computer Crime arrest report, or any other Connecticut arrest report, from the internet.
Computer Crime Victim Representation
We are often called by victims of CGS 53a-251 and 53a-252 Connecticut Computer Crimes who have had their business and personal computer systems turned upside down by having their computer hardware destroyed, infected or compromised by someone arrested for a Connecticut Computer Crime. While the civil laws of the State of Connecticut allow a Connecticut Computer Crime Victim to sue the perpetrator in the civil courts, the criminal justice system can sometimes provide quicker relief and restitution to a Computer Crime victim. As top victim representation lawyers and attorneys have observed, the criminal courts will try to compel a person arrested for a Connecticut Computer Crime to pay the victims back for their out-of-pocket expenses and costs. This is called a restitution order and can sometimes be incorporated into a plea deal between a Connecticut prosecutor and defense attorney, or can be ordered by a Superior Court judge. One of the best ways for a victim to exercise their rights in court is to hire a local victim rights lawyer attorney to be their voice in the criminal case, advocate the victim’s position to the judge and prosecutor, and try to get a victim as much money as possible from the criminal court process, where the guilty party is motivated to pay a victim based on fear of going to jail. That fear can generate the best results for a victim of a financial crime such as a Connecticut Computer Crime.
Contact An Experienced Connecticut Computer Crime Lawyer Today
There’s no question that Connecticut police are dialing up their efforts to make Computer Crime arrests. So if you are a victim of a Computer Crime, or have been arrested for committing a Computer Crime in Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Wilton or Greenwich—no matter in which degree of severity—contact one of the experienced legal team at Mark Sherman Law today. We will work with you to break down the prosecution’s case, determine whether a crime was actually committed, and present you with your options to fight your Connecticut Computer Crime arrest. Our sole objective of trying to get your Computer Crime charges dismissed. Our “two-attorney” guarantee ensures that the police reports in your case will be examined thoroughly by at least two of our criminal lawyers on staff. And unlike many of our competitors, if you are able to get your Computer Crime charges dismissed, we can work aggressively against internet media companies to try and get any online references to your arrests scrubbed and removed from the internet. So contact a Mark Sherman Law Connecticut Computer Crime lawyer today. Our rates are reasonable, and we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call. Call us at (203) 358-4700 to schedule a consultation.