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Unauthorised Modification Of Data To Cause Impairment

Potts Lawyers > Criminal Law  > Commonwealth Offences > Unauthorised Modification Of Data To Cause Impairment

What the law says

Sections 477.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code states:

(1) A person is guilty an offence if:

(a) the person causes any unauthorised modification of data held in a computer; or

(b) the person knows the modification is unauthorised; and

(c) the person is reckless as to whether the modification impairs or will impair:

(i) access to that or any other data held in any computer; or

(ii) the reliability, security or operation, of any such data; and

(d) one or more of the following applies:

(i) the data that is modified is held in a Commonwealth computer;

(ii) the data that is modified is held on behalf of the Commonwealth in a computer;

(iii) the modification of the data is caused by means of a carriage service;

(iv) the modification of the data is caused by means of a Commonwealth computer;

(v) the modification of the data impair access to, or the reliability, security or operation of, other data held in a Commonwealth computer;

(vi) the modification of the data impairs access to, or the reliability, security or operation of, other data held on behalf of the Commonwealth in a computer;

(vii) the modification of the data impairs access to or the reliability, security or operation of, other data by means of a carriage service..

(2) Absolute liability applies to paragraph (1)(d)

It is not an offence to attempt to commit an offence against this section.

What the police must prove

I

In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.

1. The accused caused:

(a) any unauthorised modification of data held in a computer; and

(b) knew the modification was unauthorised

(c) was reckless as to whether the modification impairs or will impair:

(i) access to that or any other data held in any computer; or

(ii) the reliability, security or operation, of any such data; and

(d) one or more of the following applies:

(i) the data that is modified is held in a Commonwealth computer

(ii) the data that is modified is held on behalf of the Commonwealth in a computer;

(iii) the modification of the data is caused by means of a carriage service;

(iv) the modification of the data is caused by means of a Commonwealth computer;

(v) the modification of the data impair access to, or the reliability, security or operation of, other data held in a Commonwealth computer;

(vi) the modification of the data impairs access to, or the reliability, security or operation of, other data held on behalf of the Commonwealth in a computer;

(vii) the modification of the data impairs access to or the reliability, security or operation of, other data by means of a carriage service.

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence.

Maximum penalty

The Maximum penalty for the offence of Unauthorised Modification of Data to Cause Impairment is 10 years imprisonment.

A person may be guilty of an offence against this section even if there is or will be no actual impairment to:

(a) access to data held in a computer; or

(b) the reliability, security or operation, of any such data.

A conviction for an offence against this section is an alternative verdict to a charge for an offence against section 477.3 9 unauthorised impairment of electronic communication.

Which court will hear the matter

This matter is Commonwealth Offence which means it is dealt with in the Supreme Court.

Possible defences

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to

The Accused did not

(a) cause any unauthorised modification of data held in a computer; and

(b) did not know the modification was unauthorised

(c) was not reckless as to whether the modification impairs or will impair:

(i) access to that or any other data held in any computer; or

(ii) the reliability, security or operation, of any such data; and

(d) one or more of the following applies:

(i) the data that is modified is not held in a Commonwealth computer

(ii) the data that is modified is not held on behalf of the Commonwealth in a computer;

(iii) the modification of the data is not caused by means of a carriage service;

(iv) the modification of the data is not caused by means of a Commonwealth computer;

(v) the modification of the data does not impair access to, or the reliability, security or operation of, other data held in a Commonwealth computer;

(vi) the modification of the data does not impair access to, or the reliability, security or operation of, other data held on behalf of the Commonwealth in a computer;

(vii) the modification of the data does not impair access to or the reliability, security or operation of, other data by means of a carriage service.

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