What is Computer Trespass in GA?

Computer trespass, the crime of using a computer or accessing a computer network without permission from its owner in order to alter or delete the contents, is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The most valuable things that most of us own are not things; they are pieces of information stored in cyberspace or on computer hard drives. It is obviously illegal to log into someone’s bank account online and make transactions without their knowledge or to find their social security number on a PDF file of their tax return and use it without their knowledge; that is identity theft. What about tampering with someone’s computer just to inconvenience them, though? In fact, there is a name for when a wife who has just been served with divorce papers logs into her husband’s computer and deletes the novel he has been working on for years and the photos from when he went backstage at a David Bowie concert in the 1980s, or when a disgruntled former employee logs into the employer’s photo network and changes the company logo on the email signatures to a poo emoji. It is called computer trespass, and Georgia law considers it a felony. If you are facing criminal charges for computer trespass, contact an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer, at Zimmerman & Associates.

Using a Computer or Computer Network “Without Authority”

Georgia Code O.C.G.A. § 16-9-93(b) defines computer trespass as, accessing a computer or computer network “without authority” for purposes of tampering with or deleting the contents of the network. “Without authority” means that the owner of the device or the network did not give you permission to use it on the occasion when you used it. In other words, even if you had once had permission to use the computer or network, you can still be charged with criminal trespass. For example, a former employee could get charged with criminal trespass if they log into the computer network after being fired, even if their login credentials still work.

Georgia law regards computer trespass as a felony. The maximum sentence is a $15,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison. The court might also order you to pay restitution to the victim whose computer or network you unlawfully entered, in an amount equal to the financial losses you caused them.

Defenses to Allegations of Computer Trespass

If you plead not guilty to charges for computer trespass, your criminal defense lawyer can help you choose the best arguments to use in your defense. Some defendants have argued that the owner of the network or device gave them consent to access it, or that they had a reasonable belief that the owner gave them consent. They might also argue that the evidence against them is insufficient to indicate their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not a valid defense if you argue that you once had authority to access the device or network, that you accessed it by accident, or that the changes you made to the contents were only temporary.

Contact Zimmerman & Associates About Computer Trespass Cases

A criminal defense lawyer can help if you are facing criminal charges for computer trespass. Contact Zimmerman & Associates in Norcross, Georgia to set up a free consultation.