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NY Penal Law § 156.05: Unauthorized use of a computer

Unlawful access of computers is defined as illegally accessing a computer or computer network, or allowing another person to have access. Unauthorized access of a computer can include a number of different activities including figuring out another person's password and using it to access that person's computer, giving a password to another person who does not have authorization to access the computer, hacking into someone's computer via the internet, or pretending to be another person in order to access computer services that would otherwise not be available to you. Such activities are crimes. Under New York Penal Law § 156.05 you have committed the crime of unauthorized use of a computer if you knowingly use or access a computer, computer service, or computer network without authorization.


While he was living with his former girlfriend, Anthony Rucano installed a program on her computer that recorded the keystrokes of that computer, including account names and passwords to email accounts. After the relationship ended Rucano accessed his now ex-girlfriend's email account from an IP address registered to him. Rucano ultimately pled guilty to unauthorized use of a computer. People v. Rucano, 2015 NY Slip Op 50177 (N.Y. App. Term, 2015)

Related Offenses
  1. Computer trespass: N.Y. Pen. Law § 156.10
  2. Criminal possession of computer related material: N.Y. Pen. Law § 156.35

In order to successfully prosecute you for a charge of unauthorized use of a computer, the prosecutor must prove that you knowingly used or accessed a computer without authorization. In fact, New York Penal Law § 156 specifically states that it is a defense to this charge if you reasonably believed that you had authorization to use the computer.

Another defense amounts to a mistaken identity defense. If someone else used your computer to unlawfully access another person's computer without your knowledge or permission, then you should be able to successfully challenge a charge of unauthorized use of a computer


As a class A misdemeanor, if you are convicted of unauthorized use of a computer your sentence may include a jail term of up to a year, a probation term of 3 years, and a fine.

New York Penal Law § 156.05: Unauthorized Use of a Computer

A person is guilty of unauthorized use of a computer when he or she knowingly uses, causes to be used, or accesses a computer, computer service, or computer network without authorization.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Even though unauthorized use of a computer is a misdemeanor and not a felony, it is still important to have experienced representation. 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 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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