Breach of Computer Security essentially involves accessing a computer or computer network without the consent of the owner. Using a person’s iphone, desktop, laptop, or other computer or computer network without that person’s permission or consent. Have you been arrested and charged with this crime in Tarrant, Parker, Dallas, or another surrounding Texas County? If you are facing this charge you could be looking at either a misdemeanor or a felony. What exactly your charge might be will depend on several different factors. This page discusses different aspects and consequences of this charge.
How Severe is Breach of Computer Security?
As noted above, breach of computer security can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. There are several different factors that can determine this. For one, it can depend on the amount of damages. Damages can sometimes be elusive and speculative. The amount of damages can be something your defense attorney can attack. Another factor that will come into play are any potential prior convictions you may have. Priors will be important in different ways. They will be important both when it comes to the class of penalty you could be facing. Furthermore, they can also be important when it comes to plea negotiations with the prosecutor.
If this is your first charge for breach of computer security, you could potentially looking at a Class B misdemeanor. However, if you are confronting a new charge, and you’ve been convicted for breach of computer security twice in the past, you will be defending a felony case. There is also another way to get to a felony: it can also be a felony charge if the computer or computer network is either a government facility or is deemed to be a critical infrastructure facility. Misdemeanors and felonies operate much differently in Texas and the differences are discussed in greater detail below. If you want to talk specifically about your case, call me and we can set up a consultation in person or over the phone. Now let’s look at what the law is in Texas.
What is the Law in Texas?
Breach of Computer Security is in Chapter 33 of the Texas Penal Code, which deals with computer crimes. Here is the language from the statute:
33.02. Breach of Computer Security.
(a) a person commits an offense if the person knowingly accesses a computer, computer network, or computer system without the effective consent of the owner.
(b) an offense under Subsection (a) is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if:
(1) the defendant has been previously convicted two or more times of an offense under this chapter; or
(2) the computer, computer network, or computer system is owned by the government or a critical infrastructure facility.
(b-1) a person commits the offense if, with the intent to defraud or harm another or alter, damage, or delete property, the person knowingly accesses:
- A computer, a computer network, or computer system without effective consent of the owner; or
- A computer, computer network, or computer system:
- That is owned by:
- The government; or
- A business or other commercial entity engaged in a business activity;
- In violation of:
- A clear and conspicuous prohibition by the owner of the computer, computer network, or computer system, or
- A contractual agreement to which the person has expressly agreed; and
- With the intent to obtain or use a file, data, or proprietary information stored in the computer, network, or system to defraud or harm another or alter, damage, or delete property.
(b-2) An offense under Subsection (b-1) is:
- A Class C misdemeanor if the aggregate amount involved is less than $100;
- A Class B misdemeanor if the aggregate amount involved is $100 or more but less than $750;
- A Class A misdemeanor if the aggregate amount is $750 or more but less than $2,500;
- A state jail felony if the aggregate amount involved is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000
- A felony of the third degree if the aggregate amount involved is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000
- A felony of the second degree if:
- The aggregate amount involved is $150,000 or more but less than $300,000
- The aggregate amount involved is any amount less than $300,000 and the computer, computer network, or computer system is owned by the government or a critical infrastructure facility; or
- The actor obtains the identifying information of another by accessing only one computer, computer network, or computer system; or
- A felony of the first degree if:
- The aggregate amount involved is $300,000 or more; or
- The actor obtains the identifying information of another by accessing more than one computer, computer network, or computer system.
(c) When benefits are obtained, a victim is defrauded or harmed, or property is altered, damaged, or deleted in violation of this section, whether or not in a single incident, the conduct may be considered as one offense and the value of the benefits obtained and of the losses incurred because of the fraud, harm, or alteration, damage, or deletion of property may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense.
(d) A person who is subject to prosecuted under this section and any other section of this code may be prosecuted under either or both sections;
(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person acted with intent to facilitate a lawful seizure or search of, or lawful access to, a computer, computer network, or computer system for a legitimate law enforcement purpose.
(f) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (b-1)(2) that the actor’s conduct consisted solely of action taken pursuant to a contract that was entered into with the owner of the computer, computer network, or computer system for the purpose of assessing the security of the computer, network, or system or providing other security-related activities.
What is Misdemeanor Breach?
Misdemeanor breach involves an allegation that the person knowingly accessed a computer or computer network without the consent of the owner. If this is the charge it is a Class B misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor carries with it a range of punishment of between 3 and 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Probation is available with the charge. Deferred adjudication probation is also available. This means that if you complete your probationary term, the case gets dismissed, and you can eventually clear the record of your arrest. If the allegation is that you attempted to defraud or harm another or damage or delete something, then the charge will depend on the amount of damage done.
What is a Felony Breach?
Felony breach can mean several different things. For one, it could mean that you have been convicted twice before and are now facing a third charge. If this is the case, the charge will be a state jail felony. State jail felonies carry a potential range of punishment of up to two years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine. The charge can also be a state jail felony if the computer is owned by the government or is part of a critical infrastructure facility. The charges can be even more severe in certain circumstances. Depending on the amount of damages, it can be charged all the way up to a second or even first degree felony.
Why Do I Need to Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney?
There is not an effective way to inform yourself regarding what might or might not happen in your specific case by reading a web page, regardless of how informative or detailed it may be. The way to get answers is to talk to an attorney who handles these types of cases. If you are charged with any level of breach of computer security, it is important to consult with and retain a skilled attorney who will fight for you. An arrest can result in anxiety, stress, and turmoil. However, this is when the case is just beginning. A criminal conviction can detrimentally affect your future if you don’t take it seriously. These types of cases, especially if they are felonies, can impact both your way of life and your future in a negative way. Please call me and we can discuss your charge. I will talk to you about your case, and detail both your charge and the criminal defense process.