Understanding a Computer Tampering Charge
Computer tampering is a crime. In short, computer tampering refers to any action through which an individual knowingly gains unauthorized access to a computer, a program, a computer system, or data stored on a computer or within a computer system. Many different actions may be charged as computer tampering.
Sometimes, a legitimate action is charged as an act of computer tampering. In other cases, human mistakes and computer errors lead to accusations and charges of computer tampering. In any of these cases, an individual faces steep criminal penalties if he or she is convicted. Individuals in this position can fight their charges to potentially have them lowered or dismissed.
Examples of Computer Tampering
Computer tampering can occur when an individual “hacks” a computer system or when he or she accesses data or a system in excess of his or her privileges. For example, an individual who works in a company’s payroll department may be charged with computer tampering if he or she is believed to have accessed an area of the company’s payroll software to change his or her wage amount. Other examples of computer tampering include:
- Accessing data with the intention of illegally sharing or selling it;
- Using another party’s login credentials to access privileged computer programs or systems; and
- Changing a website’s content without permission from the site’s owner, even if done as a prank.
For an individual to be found guilty of computer tampering, the court must prove that he or she knowingly committed the offense.
Computer Tampering and Aggravated Computer Tampering Charges
In most cases, computer tampering is charged as a Class B misdemeanor. However, it may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor or as a Class 3 or Class 4 felony. In many instances, an individual’s second or subsequent computer tampering conviction is charged more steeply than his or her first offense. When an individual is accused of causing damage to a computer or a system through his or her alleged tampering, he or she faces a greater charge than if he or she is merely accused to gaining unauthorized access to a computer, data, or a network.
Aggravated computer tampering refers to the act of tampering with a computer, a program, data, or a system in a manner that is likely to cause victims to suffer injury or death. Depending on the nature of the breach and the damage it caused, an act of alleged aggravated computer tampering may be charged as a Class 4, Class 3, or Class 2 felony. These convictions carry steep fines and lengthy prison sentences.
Work with an Experienced Geneva Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing a computer tampering charge, contact our team of experienced Naperville criminal defense lawyers at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to set up your initial legal consultation in our office. We can work with you to determine the ideal way to handle your charge in court, then develop a custom defense strategy for your case. Do not wait to make the call — contact our team today to start working on your defense strategy.