Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material

One of the potentially more serious crimes in New York involving computers, Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material can range from a “B” misdemeanor to an “E” felony. Like most New York computer crimes, these offenses are often associated and prosecuted with other crimes that are equal to or more significant than the duplication you are alleged to have perpetrated. Whether you are charged with Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 156.29) or Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 156.30), consulting with and retaining a New York criminal lawyer experienced in defending clients in computer crime matters may mean the difference between successfully resolving a criminal complaint or serving time in prison.

While NY PL 156.30 is punishable by up to one and one third to four years in state prison (even for a first time offender), NY PL 156.29 is punishable by significantly less time. Having said that, should you be convicted of the latter offense, you can spend up to 90 days in custody at such institutions as Rikers Island or the Westchester County Jail. Practically speaking, one day at either of those jails is one day too long.

Defining Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material

Although not a verbatim recitation of either NY PL 156.30 or NY PL 156.29, the general premise of Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material is that you duplicate or copy certain records or data that is considered computer material. As a misdemeanor crime, you must copy this data without permission and it must relate to medical records. As a felony, this offense must also involve a lack of permission, but the type of records is expanded further. Additionally, the First Degree offense involves the deprivation of value or benefit to the owner of the data in excess of $2,500 or the duplication was committed while furthering some other felony. Each of these crimes, First Degree and Second Degree Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material, is examined in greater detail through the respective links above.

Important Legal Terms Involving Article 156 & Computer Crimes

Some of the critical terms, but not all, that you need to have a grasp on when either being investigated or arrested for Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material are “computer,” “computer data” and “computer material.”

The New York Penal Law defines “computer” as any device which, pursuant to a computer program, can automatically perform logical, storage and other operations with or on computer data. This definition also includes any connected or directly related device that enables the computer to store, retrieve or communicate to or from another computer or device. Although the definition does not specifically state it, an iPhone, PC, tablet or any similar device is a "computer."

"Computer data" is defined as property that is a representation of information which is being processed or has been processed in a computer and may be in any form whether stored internally in a computer or not.

Distinct from "computer data," "computer material" is property and includes any computer data or computer program that (a) contains medical records of an identifiable or readily identifiable person, (b) contains records maintained by the state or government instrumentality 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 (c) is not intended to be available to anyone other than the person in rightful possession.

Again, these definitions are crucial in understanding any computer crime offense brought in New York State, but are by no means all the definitions that establish Article 156 offenses.

What Should You Do if Charged with Unlawful Duplication

Unfortunately, there is no "quick fix" for a New York arrest or indictment relating to Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related material. Was your arrest in the context of a divorce or employer-employee relationship? What is the specific property you are claimed to have duplicated? Is there an articulable argument that you had permission to access and copy this information?

Whatever your defense may be, identifying and implementing it with your criminal lawyer as early in the process as possible is crucial. The steps you take now may protect your liberty, career and future well after a judge slams down his gavel.

Call the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today to discuss your case and possible defenses.

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