Sentencing Cyber-crimes

Cyber-crimes have been on the rise the last ten years. Computer and Internet crimes such as cyber-harassment, virtual identity theft, and hacking crimes are subject to New York Penal Law. You may believe that since a website or Internet platform is anonymous you won’t face criminal penalties. However, this isn’t always the case. Local police departments and federal agencies have created "computer crime units" to combat the cybercrime offenders.

A cybercrime can range from harassing a person with lewd comments online to hacking a large commercial website. If you or someone you know has been accused of a cybercrime, it’s vital that you obtain legal representation as soon as possible. New York law doesn’t treat cyber-crime offenders lightly. You may face heavy penalties such as steep fines and possible incarceration.

Queens Attorneys for Cyber-crimes in New York

Today's society is incredibly reliant on digital platforms to navigate our personal and professional lives. This makes it even easier for offenders to commit cyber-crimes. It’s crucial that you stay informed of what may happen next if you have been charged with a cybercrime.

The attorneys at Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner are knowledgeable of how cyber-crimes are handled in New York legal system.  We understand that being charged with a crime can be overwhelming. Using our resources and strategies we want to help you obtain the best possible result for your case. Additionally, our attorneys very familiar with the logistics of Internet mediums. Call the attorneys at Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner to create a sturdy legal defense for your case.

Rochelle S. Berliner, our firm founder, has had over 27 years of experience in criminal law.  She has 14 out of those years were spent at District Attorney's office. Ms. Berliner can use her vast experience to create a strong defense for you.  

Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner accepts clients throughout all five boroughs of New York City including The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau and Suffolk.

Call an attorney today at 718-261-5600 and schedule a free consultation regarding your case.

Overview for Cybercrimes in New York


Unauthorized Use of a Computer in New York

It is considered a crime in New York to access a computer without authorization. Especially if the computer is located in an office workspace. Normally a person charged with unauthorized use of a computer is using a computer at their job. However, you can be charged with unauthorized computer use in a multitude of ways. A person can be charged with unauthorized use of a computer by accessing a computer, computer service, or a computer network.

Unauthorized use of a computer is a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by:

  • A possible fine up to $1,000; and
  • Possible jail sentencing up to one year.

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Computer Trespass in New York

Computer trespass is similar to unauthorized use of a computer with some added circumstances. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following to obtain a computer trespass conviction:

  • The alleged offender knowingly used, caused to be used, or accessed a computer, computer service, or computer network without authorization and:
    • He or she did so with the intent to commit, attempt to commit or further the commission of any felony; or
    • He or she knowingly gained access to computer material.

Computer trespass is a Class E felony, which is punishable by:

  • A possible fine of up to $5,000; and
  • Prison sentence for up to four years.

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Computer Tampering under NY Penal Law § 156.20

In New York, it’s considered a crime to tamper with a computer, computer service, program or computer network. New York law classifies computer tampering in four degrees. Computer tampering classifications depend on the circumstances of the offense.

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Computer Tampering in the Fourth Degree

Computer tampering in the fourth degree has no added aggravating factors. An offense is considered to be computer tampering if the alleged offender: 

  • Uses, caused to be used or accesses a computer, computer service, or computer network without any kind of authorization; and
  • He or she intentionally altered in any manner or destroyed computer data or program of another person or business.

Fourth degree computer tampering is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by:

  • A possible fine up to $1,000; and
  • Possible jail time for up to one year.

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Computer Tampering in the Third Degree

A person may be charged with computer tampering in the third degree if he or she:

  • Commits the crime of computer tampering in the fourth degree and:
    • Intentionally alters in any manner or destroys computer material;
    • Intentionally alters in any manner or destroys computer data or a computer program so as to cause damages in an aggregate amount exceeding $1,000;
    • Has intent to commit or attempt to commit or further the commission of any felony; or
    • Was previously convicted of any crime under this article or Penal Law 165.15(11).

Computer tampering is a Class E felony, which is punishable by:

  • Possible fine of up to $5,000; and
  • Prison sentence up to four years.

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Computer Tampering in the Second Degree

A person may be charged with computer tampering in the second degree if he or she:

  • Commits the crime of computer tampering in the fourth degree; and
  • Intentionally alters in any manner or destroys the following:
    • Computer data or a computer program so as to cause damages in an aggregate amount exceeding $3,000; or
    • Computer material that contains records of the medical history or treatment of an identified or readily identifiable person or persons who suffer from serious physical injury.

Computer tampering in the second degree is a Class D felony, which is punishable by:

  • A possible fine of up to $5,000; and
  • Prison sentence up to seven years.

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Computer Tampering in the First Degree

The highest offense for unlawfully accessing a computer, computer service or computer network without authorization is first degree computer tampering. A person may be charged with first degree computer tampering if he or she:

  • Commits the crime of fourth degree computer tampering; and
    • Intentionally alters or destroys computer data or a computer program; and
    • Knowingly causes damage in an aggregate amount exceeding $50,000.

First degree computer tampering is a Class C felony, which is punishable by:

  • A possible fine of up to $5,000; and
  • Possible prison sentence for up to seven years.

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New York Cyber-harassment Laws

There is no single statute dedicated solely to cyberharassment. Instead, cyber-harassment is prosecuted as aggravated harassment under New York Penal Laws. A person may be charged with cyber-harassment if he or she:

  • Harasses another person by:
    • Communicating through any kind of electronic means a threat of physical harm, harm to property, or harm to the alleged victim’s family or household; or
    • Communicating through any kind of electronic means a threat of physical harm, harm to the victim’s property, or harm to the alleged victim’s family or household that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their physical harm or safety.

Cyber-harassment is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by:

  • Possible fine up to $1,000; and
  • Possible jail time for up to one year.

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Additional Resources

New York Penal Law § 156.05 – Visit the official website for New York's penal laws to read more regarding the differing computer crimes in New York's criminal courts. Access the New York laws to learn cyber-crime specifics, their penalties, and possible defenses to the court.

Cyber-Crime – Visit the official website for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to find more information regarding cyber-crimes. Use the site to learn how to report cyber-crime, different types of cyber crimes, and causes of cyber crime.

Cyber-Crimes Center – Visit the official website for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to read more regarding their Cyber-Crimes unit. You can learn about their mission to battle transnational criminal organizations that use cyber capabilities to further their criminal enterprise.

Computer Crimes Unit – Visit the official website for the New York State Police to find more information regarding the Computer Crimes Unit (CCU).  Access the site to read their mission for providing outreach and education to community groups on internet safety, as well as training to law enforcement agencies on the tools and processes used to assist with the prosecution of technology related crimes.


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Defense Lawyers for Cybercrimes in Queens, New York

New York laws for cyber-crimes have serious legal penalties. A cybercrime offense can lead to felony charges. You must start act today by obtaining trusted legal representation. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner today.

Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner approaches each case with a new set of eyes. Our attorneys have years of experience with all types of computer offenses in New York. We know the ins and outs of all New York's criminal procedures. With Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner you can find an attorney who puts you first.

The attorneys at Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner represent those accused of digital crimes throughout Queens County including The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Suffolk and Nassau.

Call us today at 718-261-5600, or simply submit an online contact form today.


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This article was last updated on August 13, 2019.

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Rochelle Berliner
Rochelle Berliner

Rochelle Berliner grew up in Queens, NY. She started New York Law School in January 1989 and graduated in June 1991. Immediately after law school, she started working at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she stayed for approximately 14 years...

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