For Those Charged With a Crime
Defense for Electronic Data Tampering
Protecting Against Data Tampering – Call (346) 249-5544
Keeping up with the rapidly changing digital era, the Texas legislature enacted a law in 2017 called Electronic Data Tampering. As part of the Texas Penal Code Section 33 for computer crimes, electronic data tampering outlaws the use of ransomware, as well as the altering data of that is shared by Internet users and the data that is shared over privately-operated computer networks. To alter data over the Internet or a privately-operated computer network, you must be altering the data for valid business reasons.
If you face a criminal charge of electronic data tampering, you should immediately consult with a Texas licensed criminal defense lawyer who has a thorough understanding of the recently passed legislation.
Overview of the Electronic Data Tampering Law
Texas Penal Code Section 33.023 that refers to computer crimes provides a succinct description of the Electronic Data Tampering law. There are two descriptions that define how Texas deals with offenders that tamper with digital data.
“A person commits an offense if the person intentionally alters data as it transmits between two computers in a computer network or computer system through deception and without a legitimate business purpose.”
“A person commits an offense if the person intentionally introduces ransomware onto a computer, computer network, or computer system through deception and without a legitimate business purpose.”
Punishment for Violating the Electronic Data Tampering Law
The penalty for violating one provision or both provisions of the Texas Electronic Tampering law depends on the amount of damage caused by the perpetrator. Texas considers a Class C misdemeanor to be the default punishment for a violation of the Electronic Data Tampering law. A Class C misdemeanor carries a fine up to $5000, with no jail time associated with the conviction.
However, a defendant can receive a first-degree felony conviction for an electronic data tampering charge that involves a substantial amount of money. A first-degree felony conviction results in a prison sentence between five and 99 years, as well as a fine that cannot exceed $10,000.
How the Electronic Tampering Law Defines Ransomware
Texas Computer Crimes Section 33 defines ransomware as “a computer contaminant or lock that restricts access by an unauthorized person to a computer, computer system, or computer network or any data in a computer, computer system, or computer network under circumstances in which a person demands money, property, or a service to remove the computer contaminant or lock, restore access to the computer, computer system, computer network, or data, or otherwise remediate the impact of the computer contaminant or lock.”
The two exceptions to the definition of ransomware as it applies to the Electronic Data Tampering law are “if the software restricts access to data because authentication is required to upgrade, or access purchased content or access to subscription content has been blocked for nonpayment.”
Possible Defenses for Electronic Data Tampering in Texas
Although Texas treats a computer crime charges seriously, there are several possible defenses to use for our clients charged with electronic data tampering.
If you were authorized to alter electronic data, then the State of Texas cannot charge you with an electronic data tampering crime. To use this defense successfully, we will need to prove you were allowed to access the data. This can include using a company issued password to access data or swiping a card to enter a computer area that requires authorization.
Many types of crimes can be defended by using the coercion defense. This defense maintains a defendant was forced to commit the crime of electronic data tampering. Coercion typically involves issuing a threat of using violence. Criminal defense lawyer Adam Capetillo will put the person who coerced you under oath to determine whether the person used coercion to get you to tamper with digital data.
Many of the computer crimes listed in Section 33 of the Texas Penal Code require prosecutors to prove a defendant knowingly accessed data for the sole purpose of manipulating it. We can use this defense in cases that involve a client using a form that he or she did not know was fraudulent. Lack of knowledge is a powerful defense to prevent a judge or a jury from returning a guilty verdict that is “Beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Illegal Search and Seizure
Most computer crimes involve the seizure of electronic devices. For the State of Texas to present a compelling case, the law enforcement agency that seized one or more computer devices must have obtained a properly issued search warrant from the appropriate judge. One or more violations of the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution can lead to a judge dismissing an electronic data tampering charge.
Call Texas Cyber Crime Lawyer Today
Facing one or more charges of electronic data tampering carries with it serious legal consequences. A conviction for the computer crime charge will negatively impact your personal and professional lives. Get the legal representation you deserve by calling Adam Capetillo at (346) 249-5544 or by submitting the convenient online form.