What is Invasion of Privacy?

Georgia law prohibits the unauthorized viewing of financial and other similar personal records.

Basically, O.C.G.A. § 16-9-93 is the criminal version of a data breach. Frequently, invasion of privacy and the tort of data breach overlap. Georgia law includes a private right of action. If the victim sustains a physical or financial injury, the victim could sue for damages in civil court. O.C.G.A. § 16-9-93 is limited to internet crimes, usually website hacking. Other invasions of privacy torts include publicity, appropriation, intrusion, and false light. Related criminal offenses include computer theft, trespassing, and forgery.

The civil overlap often means that victims badger prosecutors until they file charges. Criminal charges make it much easier to win a civil lawsuit. Since prosecutors are so aggressive in this area, defendants need an equally aggressive Norcross criminal defense lawyer to defend their constitutional rights in court.

Elements of the Offense

In Georgia, invasion of computer privacy is the unauthorized viewing of PPI (protected personal information), such as:

As mentioned, website hacking is the most common form of computer privacy infractions. The unauthorized use of a username and password could constitute a violation as well.

According to the statute, “without authority” is the use of a computer or computer network in a manner that exceeds any right or permission granted by the owner of the computer or computer network.

This offense contains a unique intent element. Usually, computer privacy charges don’t hold up in court unless the defendant has the intent to steal money or obtain another unlawful financial gain. So, these laws usually do not apply if the defendant is a “hacktivist” or if the defendant wants to embarrass an organization by penetrating its security protocols.

However, O.C.G.A. § 16-9-93 charges could hold up in court if the defendant intended to view the records. If the defendant viewed the records, that action usually establishes unlawful intent.

Invasion of computer privacy is a serious felony that could mean up to 15 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

Possible Outcomes

Unless a Norcross criminal defense lawyer refutes the lack of authority requirement, invasion of computer privacy charges are difficult to defend. However, successful resolutions remain available, mostly pretrial diversion and deferred disposition.

Since invasion of computer privacy is a nonviolent crime that, in many cases, involves no monetary loss or other injury, prosecutors almost always offer pretrial diversion. Basically, prosecutors voluntarily dismiss the charges if defendants walk the straight and narrow for a few months. Other program requirements could include performing community service and attending a victim impact panel or other such class.

Deferred disposition or First Offender treatment is a more formal form of pretrial diversion. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the judge dismisses the case.

Count on a Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Attorney

Successful resolutions are available in computer invasion of privacy cases. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Norcross, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law.