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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

9.6-1  Unauthorized Access to a Computer System -- § 53a-251 (b) and §§ 53a-252 through 53a-256

Revised to December 1, 2007

Note:  The various types of computer crime are defined in § 53a-251.  The degree of the offense is determined by the value of the property damaged or services stolen or interfered with.  See § 53a-252 (first degree: exceeds $10,000), § 53a-253 (second degree: exceeds $5,000), § 53a-254 (third degree: exceeds $1,000), § 53a-255 (fourth degree: exceeds $500), and § 53a-256 (fifth degree: does not exceed $500).  In addition, the value of the property or services is irrelevant if the defendant recklessly created a risk of serious physical injury, in which case it is third degree (e.g., interfering with the computer system of a medical or emergency organization).

The defendant is charged [in count __] with unauthorized access to a computer system in the (first / second / third/ fourth / fifth) degree.  The statute defining this crime reads in pertinent part as follows: 

a person is guilty of the computer crime of unauthorized access to a computer system when, knowing that (he/she) is not authorized to do so, (he/she) accesses or causes to be accessed any computer system without authorization.

[<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 - Accessed computer system
The first element is that the defendant accessed a computer system.  "Computer system" means a computer, its software, related equipment, communications facilities, if any, and includes computer networks.  "Computer" means a programmable, electronic device capable of accepting and processing data.  "Computer network" means (A) a set of related devices connected to a computer by communications facilities, or (B) a complex of two or more computers, including related devices, connected by communications facilities.  "Access" means to instruct, communicate with, store data in or retrieve data from a computer, computer system or computer network.

<Describe the specific allegations of the computer system accessed.>

Element 2 - Without authorization
The second element is that the defendant was not authorized to access <identify computer system>.

Element 3 - Knowledge
The third element is that the defendant knew that (he/she) was not authorized to access <identify computer system>.  A person acts "knowingly" with respect to conduct or circumstances when (he/she) is aware that (his/her) conduct is of such nature or that such circumstances exist.  <See Knowledge, Instruction 2.3-3.>

Element 4 - Value of property or services / Risk of serious physical injury
[<If the state is alleging a dollar amount of damages:>

The fourth element is that the damage to or the value of the property or computer services <insert according to degree charged:>

  • First degree:  exceeds $10,000.

  • Second degree:  exceeds $5,000.

  • Third degree:  exceeds $1,000.

  • Fourth degree:  exceeds $500.

  • Fifth degree:  is $500 or less.

The value of property or computer services is either 1) the market value of the property or computer services at the time of the crime; or 2) if the property or computer services are unrecoverable, damaged or destroyed as a result of the crime, the cost of reproducing or replacing the property or computer services at the time of the crime.  When the value of the property or computer services or damage to the property or the services cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the value shall be deemed to be two hundred fifty dollars.  The value of private personal data shall be deemed to be one thousand five hundred dollars.1

[<If there are multiple items and their values can be aggregated:>  In making this determination, you may add or aggregate the value of the property involved.  You can only aggregate amounts if the thefts were committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same or several persons.2]

[<If the state is alleging reckless conduct:>3

The fourth element is that the defendant engaged in conduct that created a risk of serious physical injury to another person.  A person acts "recklessly" with respect to a result or circumstances when (he/she) is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstances exist.  <See Recklessness, Instruction 2.3-4.>

"Serious physical injury" is something more serious than mere physical injury, which is defined as "impairment of physical condition or pain."  It is more than a minor or superficial injury.  It is defined by statute as "physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health or serious loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ."]

[Affirmative Defense
The statute defining this offense also defines an affirmative defense, which the defendant has raised.  <See Affirmative Defense, Instruction 2.9-1.>

The defense is defined as follows: 

it shall be an affirmative defense to a prosecution for unauthorized access to a computer system that <insert appropriate subsection:>

  • § 53a-251 (b) (2) (A):  the person reasonably believed that the owner of the computer system, or a person empowered to license access thereto, had authorized (him/her) to access the system.

  • § 53a-251 (b) (2) (B):  the person reasonably believed that the owner of the computer system, or a person empowered to license access thereto, would have authorized (him/her) to access the system without payment of any consideration.

  • § 53a-251 (b) (2) (C):  the person reasonably could not have known that (his/her) access was unauthorized.

The defendant has presented evidence that <describe the defendant's specific claims regarding this defense>.]

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant accessed <insert computer system>, 2) (he/she) was not authorized to do so, and 3) <insert the value of the damages or the allegations of recklessness>.

[<If defendant has not raised the affirmative defense:>

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of unauthorized access to a computer system in the (first / second / third/ fourth / fifth) degree, 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.]

[<If defendant has raised the affirmative defense:>

If you unanimously find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of the crime of unauthorized access to a computer system in the (first / second / third/ fourth / fifth) degree, you shall then find the defendant not guilty and not consider the defendant's affirmative defense.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements, then you shall consider the defendant's affirmative defense.  If you unanimously find that the defendant has proved (his/her) defense by a preponderance of the evidence, then you shall find the defendant not guilty.  If you unanimously find that the defendant has not proved (his/her) affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence, then you shall find the defendant guilty.]
_______________________________________________________

1 General Statutes § 53a-259.

2 General Statutes § 53a-258.

3 Reckless conduct that creates a risk of serious physical injury to another person is computer crime in the third degree.  General Statutes § 53a-254.
 


 

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