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New Jersey Computer Theft

Theft of Computer Related Property or Services

NJ Criminal Lawyer & Former Prosecutor

The use of computers has reached the point that the majority of households now have at least one. Computers are used to store personal information, business data, and other important information. Additionally, the hardware and software which are utilized by a computer system can be extremely valuable. The incident of computer theft and related offense has continued to grow with the escalating demand for computers. The Law Offices of John F. Marshall represents individuals charged with computer theft and related offenses. A lawyer with our law firm is available for an immediately consultation free of charge. Our criminal defense lawyers appear statewide on computer related theft cases including Monmouth County, Ocean County, Union County, Middlesex County, Somerset County, Essex County, Hudson County and Mercer County. The following is a brief discussion of the law and issues involved in defending a First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree, or Fourth Degree Offense for computer based theft offenses.

New Jersey Computer Related Theft Law

The law in New Jersey with respect to Computer Related Theft is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:20-25. The definition of terms used in this law is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:20-23. N.J.S.A. 2C:20-25 provides:

A person is guilty of computer criminal activity if the person purposely or knowingly and without authorization, or in excess of authorization:

a. Accesses any data, data base, computer storage medium, computer program, computer software, computer equipment, computer, computer system or computer network;

b. Alters, damages or destroys any data, data base, computer, computer storage medium, computer program, computer software, computer system or computer network, or denies, disrupts or impairs computer services, including access to any part of the Internet, that are available to any other user of the computer services;

c. Accesses or attempts to access any data, data base, computer, computer storage medium, computer program, computer software, computer equipment, computer system or computer network for the purpose of executing a scheme to defraud, or to obtain services, property, personal identifying information, or money, from the owner of a computer or any third party;

e. Obtains, takes, copies or uses any data, data base, computer program, computer software, personal identifying information, or other information stored in a computer, computer network, computer system, computer equipment or computer storage medium; or

f. Accesses and recklessly alters, damages or destroys any data, data base, computer, computer storage medium, computer program, computer software, computer equipment, computer system or computer network.

g. A violation of subsection a. of this section is a crime of the third degree. A violation of subsection b. is a crime of the second degree. A violation of subsection c. is a crime of the third degree, except that it is a crime of the second degree if the value of the services, property, personal identifying information, or money obtained or sought to be obtained exceeds $ 5,000. A violation of subsection e. is a crime of the third degree, except that it is a crime of the second degree if the data, data base, computer program, computer software, or information: (1) is or contains personal identifying information, medical diagnoses, treatments or other medical information concerning an identifiable person; (2) is or contains governmental records or other information that is protected from disclosure by law, court order or rule of court; or (3) has a value exceeding $5,000.

A violation of subsection f. is a crime of the fourth degree, except that it is a crime of the third degree if the value of the damage exceeds $5,000.

A violation of any subsection of this section is a crime of the first degree if the offense results in: (1) a substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power, or other public service. The term "substantial interruption or impairment" shall mean such interruption or impairment that: (a) affects 10 or more structures or habitations;(b) lasts for two or more hours; or (c) creates a risk of death or significant bodily injury to any person; (2) damages or loss in excess of $250,000; or
(3) significant bodily injury to any person.

Every sentence of imprisonment for a crime of the first degree committed in violation of this section shall include a minimum term of one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed, during which term the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.

h. Every sentence imposed upon a conviction pursuant to this section shall, if the victim is a government agency, include a period of imprisonment. The period of imprisonment shall include a minimum term of one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed, during which term the defendant shall not be eligible for parole. The victim shall be deemed to be a government agency if a computer, computer network, computer storage medium, computer system, computer equipment, computer program, computer software, computer data or data base that is a subject of the crime is owned, operated or maintained by or on behalf of a governmental agency or unit of State or local government or a public authority. The defendant shall be strictly liable under this subsection and it shall not be a defense that the defendant did not know or intend that the victim was a government agency, or that the defendant intended that there be other victims of the crime.

A violation of any subsection of this section shall be a distinct offense from a violation of any other subsection of this section, and a conviction for a violation of any subsection of this section shall not merge with a conviction for a violation of any other subsection of this section or section 10 of P.L.1984, c. 184 (C.2C:20-31), or for conspiring or attempting to violate any subsection of this section or section 10 of P.L.1984, c. 184 (C.2C:20-31), and a separate sentence shall be imposed for each such conviction.

When a violation of any subsection of this section involves an offense committed against a person under 18 years of age, the violation shall constitute an aggravating circumstance to be considered by the court when determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed.

The methodology for valuing computers and computer related property rights is set forth at N.J.S.A. 2C:20-26. In this regard, the value of computer property or services is its fair market value and includes the cost of any repairs for damage resulting from an unlawful act under the statute. In addition, the damages associated with the crime include any lost business and/or profits resulting from the offense.

Please do not hesitate to contact our law firm to discuss your case with a NJ criminal attorney of our office. We will answer your questions and discuss our defending your Ocean County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Union County, Hudson County, Essex County, Somerset County or Mercer County case.
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The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John F. Marshall represent New Jersey adult and juvenile clients from offices in Shrewsbury, Cranford, Toms River, Jersey City and New Brunswick. We provide prompt and convenient client service to people in such communities as Newark, Plainfield, Freehold, Eatontown, East Brunswick, Edison, Woodbridge, Westfield, Clark, Rahway, Piscataway, Sayreville, Elizabeth, Middletown, Asbury Park, Long Branch, Jackson, Lakewood, Point Pleasant, Edison, Old Bridge, Aberdeen, Linden, Belmar, Eatontown, Hazlet, Holmdel, Ocean, Sea Bright, Hoboken, Weehawken, Seaside Park, Seaside Heights, Tinton Falls, Wall, Brick, Dover, Jackson, and other locations in Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Union County, Ocean County, Burlington County, Mercer County, Essex County, Hudson County and Morris County.

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