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Unauthorised Impairment of Electronic Communication (State)

– section 247D of the Crimes Act 1958

This charge is generally laid in situations where a person interferes with electrical communication to or from a computer. Unauthorised impairment of electronic communication is a serious offence which may mean you serve a term of imprisonment if found guilty.
unauthorised impairment
This is a charge that could end up in the County Court, unless it is heard summarily.
 
Examples of Unauthorised Impairment of Electronic Communication (State)
  • You interfere with electronic communication from a computer, without being authorised to do so.
What is the legal definition of Unauthorised Impairment of Electronic Communication (State)?
A person who—

  1. causes any unauthorised impairment of electronic communication to or from a computer; and
  2. knows that the impairment is unauthorised; and
  3. intends to impair electronic communication to or from the computer or is reckless as to any such impairment—
is guilty of an offence.

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

Elements of the offence
To prove this charge, the Prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused caused an impairment of electronic communication to or from a computer; and The accused must have ‘caused’ the impairment. This means that they need to do something which results in an electronic communication being impaired.
“Can they prove you impaired electronic communication to or from a computer?”
  1. The impairment was unauthorised, and
    Whether or not the impairment was authorised will be a matter of fact. Sometimes a person will be authorised to impair some electronic communications but not others – for example, an IT consultant may be authorised to make certain changes to a computer, but then may act outside their contract.
  2. The accused knew the impairment was unauthorised, and
    The accused needs to have known that they were not authorised to impair the electronic communication. If they are unaware that they are not authorised, this will be a defence. Whether or not they the accused has the requisite knowledge will be a matter of fact.
  3. The accused intended to impair the electronic communication or was reckless
    The accused must intend for their actions to impair the electronic communication or be reckless as to that consequence. Whether or not they have this intent will be determined by looking at the surrounding circumstances.

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

You should ring us and discuss your case 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.

Questions in cases like this
  • Did you cause an authorised impairment of electronic communication to or from a computer?
  • Did you know that the impairment was unauthorised?
  • Did you intend to impair the electronic communication?
  • Were you reckless when impairing the electronic communication?

A person found guilty of this offence may be sentenced to level 5 imprisonment (10 years).