New York Penal Law § 156.29: Unlawful duplication of computer related material in the second degree

In incidence of crimes related to computers and the internet has skyrocketed over the past 2 decades. Many such crimes relate to unlawfully accessing another person's computer. Such crimes include accessing a computer or computer network without permission in order to commit a felony such as grand larceny, in order to copy material, or in order to destroy or alter computer data or a computer program. Under New York Penal Law § 156.29 you have committed the crime of unlawful duplication of computer related material in the second degree if you duplicated computer material without permission, and the material involved was medical records.

It is important to note that under the New York criminal code the terms "computer," "computer data," and "computer material" have specific definitions. Under New York Penal Law § 156.00(1) a computer is any device that uses a computer program to automatically perform arithmetic, storage and other operations with or on computer data. This definition also includes any device that enables the computer to store, retrieve or communicate to or from another computer or device. This definition would encompass not only desktop or laptop computers, but also handheld devices such as smartphones or tablets.

Under New York Penal Law § 156.00(3) "computer data" is property that is a representation of information which is being processed or has been processed in a computer. "Computer material" is property that consists of computer data or computer program that:

  • Contains medical records of readily identifiable persons,
  • Contains records maintained by the government that contains any information concerning a person that can be used to identify a person and which is otherwise prohibited by law from being disclosed, or
  • Is not intended to be available to anyone other than the person in rightful possession.
Related Offenses
  1. Unauthorized use of a computer: N.Y. Pen. Law § 156.05
  2. Computer trespass: N.Y. Pen. Law § 156.10
  3. Criminal possession of computer related material: N.Y. Pen. Law § 156.35
Defenses

To violate this statute you must have copied material that includes the medical records of identifiable individuals. If the records are coded in some way such that they have been rendered anonymous, you may have a defense to the charge. Another defense would be that you had permission to reproduce the records.

Sentence

Because unlawful duplication of computer related material in the second degree is a class B misdemeanor if you are convicted you could be sent to county jail for up to 3 months. It is also possible for the judge to sentence you to probation instead of jail.

New York Penal Law § 156.29: Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material in the Second Degree

A person is guilty of unlawful duplication of computer related material in the second degree when having no right to do so, he or she copies, reproduces or duplicates in any manner computer material that contains records of the medical history or medical treatment of an identified or readily identifiable individual or individuals with an intent to commit or further the commission of any crime under this chapter.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Even though unlawful duplication of computer related material in the second degree is a misdemeanor and not a felony, it is important to take the charge seriously. If you are convicted you could still end up in jail and be required to pay a fine. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with computer crimes as well as grand larceny, embezzlement, and other white collar crimes. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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