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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

10.5-1 Unauthorized Use of a Computer or Computer Network -- § 53-451 (b)

Revised to December 1, 2007

The defendant is charged [in count __] with the unauthorized use of a computer or computer network. The statute defining this crime reads in pertinent part as follows:

it shall be unlawful for any person to use a computer or computer network without authority and with the intent to <insert appropriate subsection:>

  • § 53-451 (b) (1): temporarily or permanently remove, halt or otherwise disable any computer data, computer programs or computer software from a computer or computer network.

  • § 53-451 (b) (2): cause a computer to malfunction, regardless of how long the malfunction persists.

  • § 53-451 (b) (3): alter or erase any computer data, computer programs or computer software.

  • § 53-451 (b) (4): effect the creation or alteration of a financial instrument or of an electronic transfer of funds.

  • § 53-451 (b) (5): cause physical injury to the property of another.

  • § 53-451 (b) (6): make or cause to be made an unauthorized copy, in any form, including, but not limited to, any printed or electronic form of computer data, computer programs or computer software residing in, communicated by or produced by a computer or computer network.

  • § 53-451 (b) (7): falsify or forge electronic mail transmission information or other routing information in any manner in connection with the transmission of unsolicited bulk electronic mail through or into the computer network of an electronic mail service provider or its subscribers.

[<Insert if appropriate:> For the purposes of this statute, "person" means a natural person, corporation, limited liability company, trust, partnership, incorporated or unincorporated association and any other legal or governmental entity, including any state or municipal entity or public official. <Describe the status of the defendant as a person.>]

For you to find the defendant guilty of this charge, the state must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

Element 1 - Used a computer or computer network
The first element is that the defendant used a computer or computer network.

"Computer" means an electronic, magnetic or optical device or group of devices that, pursuant to a computer program, human instruction or permanent instructions contained in the device or group of devices, can automatically perform computer operations with or on computer data and can communicate the results to another computer or to a person. "Computer" includes any connected or directly related device, equipment or facility that enables the computer to store, retrieve or communicate computer programs, computer data or the results of computer operations to or from a person, another computer or another device.

"Computer network" means a set of related, remotely connected devices and any communications facilities including more than one computer with the capability to transmit data among them through the communications facilities.

For purposes of this offense, a person "uses" a computer or computer network when such person <insert as appropriate:>

  • attempts to cause or causes a computer or computer network to perform or to stop performing computer operations. "Computer operation" means arithmetic, logical, monitoring, storage or retrieval functions and any combination thereof, and includes, but is not limited to, communication with, storage of data to or retrieval of data from any device or human hand manipulation of electronic or magnetic impulses. A computer operation for a particular computer may also be any function for which that computer was generally designed.

  • attempts to cause or causes the withholding or denial of the use of a computer, computer network, computer program, computer data or computer software to another user. "Computer program" means an ordered set of data representing coded instructions or statements that, when executed by a computer, causes the computer to perform one or more computer operations. "Computer data" means any representation of information, knowledge, facts, concepts or instructions that is being prepared or has been prepared and is intended to be processed, is being processed or has been processed in a computer or computer network. Computer data may be in any form, whether readable only by a computer or only by a human or by either, including, but not limited to, computer printouts, magnetic storage media, punched cards or stored internally in the memory of the computer. "Computer software" means a set of computer programs, procedures and associated documentation concerned with computer data or with the operation of a computer, computer program or computer network.

  • attempts to cause or causes another person to put false information into a computer.

Element 2 - Without authority
The second element is that the defendant did not have the authority to <insert specific allegations>. A person is "without authority" when such person <insert as appropriate:>

  • has no right or permission of the owner to use a computer or such person uses a computer in a manner exceeding such right or permission. "Owner" means an owner or lessee of a computer or a computer network, or an owner, lessee or licensee of computer data, computer programs or computer software.

  • uses a computer, a computer network or the computer services of an electronic mail service provider to transmit unsolicited bulk electronic mail in contravention of the authority granted by or in violation of the policies set by the electronic mail service provider. "Electronic mail service provider" means any person who (A) is an intermediary in sending or receiving electronic mail, and (B) provides to end-users of electronic mail services the ability to send or receive electronic mail. Transmission of electronic mail from an organization to its members shall not be deemed to be unsolicited bulk electronic mail.

Element 3 - Intent
The third element is that the defendant specifically intended to <insert as appropriate:>

  • § 53-451 (b) (1): temporarily or permanently remove, halt or otherwise disable any computer data, computer programs or computer software from a computer or computer network.

  • § 53-451 (b) (2): cause a computer to malfunction, regardless of how long the malfunction persists.

  • § 53-451 (b) (3): alter or erase any computer data, computer programs or computer software.

  • § 53-451 (b) (4): effect the creation or alteration of a financial instrument or of an electronic transfer of funds. "Financial instrument" includes, but is not limited to, any check, draft, warrant, money order, note, certificate of deposit, letter of credit, bill of exchange, credit or debit card, transaction authorization mechanism, marketable security or any computerized representation thereof.

  • § 53-451 (b) (5): cause physical injury to the property of another. "Property" means: (A) Real property; (B) computers and computer networks; (C) financial instruments, computer data, computer programs, computer software and all other personal property regardless of whether they are: (i) Tangible or intangible; (ii) in a format readable by humans or by a computer; (iii) in transit between computers or within a computer network or between any devices which comprise a computer; or (iv) located on any paper or in any device on which it is stored by a computer or by a human; and (D) computer services.

  • § 53-451 (b) (6): make or cause to be made an unauthorized copy, in any form, including, but not limited to, any printed or electronic form of computer data, computer programs or computer software residing in, communicated by or produced by a computer or computer network.

  • § 53-451 (b) (7): falsify or forge electronic mail transmission information or other routing information in any manner in connection with the transmission of unsolicited bulk electronic mail through or into the computer network of an electronic mail service provider or its subscribers.

A person acts "intentionally" with respect to a result when (his/her) conscious objective is to cause such result. <See Intent: Specific, Instruction 2.3-1.>

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant used a computer or computer network, 2) (he/she) did not have authority to use the computer or computer network in the manner (he/she) did, and 3) (he/she) intended to <insert allegations of intent>.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of unauthorized use of a computer or computer network, then you shall find the defendant guilty. On the other hand, if you unanimously find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements, you shall then find the defendant not guilty.

Commentary

Sentence Enhancer
General Statutes § 53-451 (d) provides the penalties for this offense and includes two sentence enhancement provisions. While normally a B misdemeanor, if the person's reckless disregard for the consequences of his or her actions causes damage to the property of another person in an amount exceeding $2,500, the penalty is an A misdemeanor, and if the person’s malicious actions cause damage to the property of another person in an amount exceeding $2,500, the penalty is a class D felony. The jury must find this fact beyond a reasonable doubt. See Sentence Enhancers, Instruction 2.11-4.

The interrogatory would have to include the following definitions:

  • A person acts in "reckless disregard" of a risk when (he/she) is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that property damage will occur.

  • To act "with malice" means to act with some improper or unjustifiable or harmful motive including, but not limited to, the desire to cause pain, injury or distress to another.
     


 

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