Unauthorised Impairment of Data Held in Computer Disk, Credit Card or Other Device

– section 247H of the Crimes Act 1958
Person Trying to Access Laptop
This charge is generally laid in situations where a person impairs data held on computer disk, credit card or other electronic device.
Examples of Unauthorised Impairment of Data Held in Computer Disk, Credit Card or Other Device
  • You impair data held on a computer disk in order to give yourself access to a person’s private information.
Questions in cases like this
  • Did you impair data?
  • Did you know that you were not authorised to impair the data?
  • Did you intend to cause the impairment?
What are some of the possible defences to Unauthorised Impairment of Data Held in Computer Disk, Credit Card or Other Device?

Defences to this charge can include can include a factual dispute, the fact that the accused was authorised, or duress.

You should ring us and discuss your case if you have been charged. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has implications for you and should be made after proper discussions with a criminal lawyer.

Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge

Imprisonment
This offence carries a maximum penalty of level 7 imprisonment (2 years). As it is a summary offence, it will be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

What is the legal definition of Unauthorised Impairment of Data Held in Computer Disk, Credit Card or Other Device?
  1. A person who—
    1. causes any unauthorised impairment of the reliability, security or operation of data held on a computer disk, credit card or other device used to store data by electronic means; and
    2. knows that the impairment is unauthorised; and
    3. intends to cause the impairment—

    is guilty of an offence.

Legislation

The legislation for this offence can be found on section 247H of Crimes Act 1958.

Elements of the offence

To prove this charge, the prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused causes any unauthorised impairment of the reliability, security or operation of data held on a computer disk, credit card or other device used to store data by electronic means; and
    According to section 3, impairment of reliability, security or operation of data is unauthorised if the person is not entitled to cause the impairment.
  2. The accused knew that the impairment is unauthorised; and
    The accused must have known that they were not entitled to cause the impairment. If the prosecution can’t show that the accused had knowledge, this offence will not be made out. Whether or not the accused knew they weren’t authorised will depend on circumstances.
“Can they prove you knew the impairment was unauthorised?”
  1. The accused intended to cause the impairment
    There must be an intention to cause the impairment. Mere inadvertence or carelessness will not be sufficient.

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