Unauthorised Impairment Of Electronic Communication (Commonwealth)

– section 477.3 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995
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A person will be charged with this offence if he or she interferes with electrical communication to or from a computer.
Examples of Unauthorised Impairment of Electronic Communication (Commonwealth)
  • Sending a computer virus to a private organisation’s computer;
  • Sending a computer virus to a government organisation’s computer;
Questions in cases like this
  • Did you interfere with the computer?
  • Did you know that you sent a virus?
  • Did you intend to interfere with the computer system?
  • Did you have authorisation?
  • Did another person force you to send the communication?
What are some of the possible defences to Unauthorised Impairment of Electronic Communication (Commonwealth)?

If you have been charged with this offence, you may raise one of the following defences:

  • Factual dispute;
  • The fact that you were authorised;
  • Lack of intent; or
  • Duress.

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

Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge

Imprisonment
The court may impose a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for this charge. It is a very serious offence that would be heard in one of the higher courts.

What is the legal definition of Unauthorised Impairment of Electronic Communication (Commonwealth)?

Section 476.2 of the Act defines ‘unauthorised access’ as:

  1. access to data held in a computer; or
  2. modification of data held in a computer; or
  3. the impairment of electronic communication to or from a computer; or
  4. the impairment of the reliability, security or operation of any data held on a computer disk, credit card or other device used to store data by electronic means;

by a person is unauthorised if the person is not entitled to cause that access, modification or impairment.

Legislation

The legislation for this offence can be found on section 477.3 of Criminal Code Act 1995.

Elements of the offence

The onus is on the Prosecution to prove the following elements, beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. the accused caused any unauthorised impairment of electronic communication to or from a computer; and
  2. the accused knows that the impairment is unauthorised.
“Can the Prosecution prove that you did not have authorisation?”
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