Unauthorised Modification of Data to Cause Impairment (State)

– section 247C of the Crimes Act 1958
Person Modifying Data on LaptopUnauthorised modification of data to cause impairment is a serious offence which may mean you serve a term of imprisonment if found guilty. This charge is generally laid in situations where a person modifies data to impair the operation of the data. This means that something is changed to a dataset which affects the end result.
Examples of Unauthorised Modification of Data to Cause Impairment (State)
  • You are highly skilled with technology and decide to modify a local business’ data system to allow yourself access to information about their customers. You later use this information to siphon cash from the customers’ bank accounts.
Questions in cases like this
  • Did you cause any unauthorised modification of data held in a computer?
  • Did you know that this was unauthorised?
  • Did you intend to impair access to, or to impair the reliability, security or operation of, any data?
  • Were you reckless as to any impairment?
What are some of the possible defences to Unauthorised Modification of Data to Cause Impairment (State)?

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

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.

Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge

County CourtA person proven guilty of having committed this offence may be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. This is an indictable offence which means that it will be heard in the County Court, unless heard summarily in the Magistrates’ Court.

What is the legal definition of Unauthorised Modification of Data to Cause Impairment (State)?

A person who—

  1. causes any unauthorised modification of data held in a computer; and
  2. knows that the modification is unauthorised; and
  3. intends by the modification to impair access to, or to impair the reliability, security or operation of, any data held in a 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 247C 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 any unauthorised modification of data held in a computer; and
    The modification must be unauthorised. For example, many businesses authorise IT consultants to modify their data. However, if an IT consultant was acting outside their contract and without permission, this would be unauthorised.
  2. The accused knew that the modification was unauthorised; and
    The accused must be aware that the modification was unauthorised. Whether or not the accused was aware will be determined by looking at the surrounding circumstances.
  3. The accused intended, by the modification to impair access to, or to impair the reliability, security or operation of, any data held in a computer or was reckless as to any such impairment
    The accused must have either intended that the modification would impair the data or have been reckless as to this consequence. Thus, mere inadvertence or carelessness would not be enough – there needs to be a positive state of mind.

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