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Unauthorised Access, Modification or Impairment With Intent to Commit a Serious Indictable Offence

Unauthorised access, modification or impairment with intent to commit a serious indictable offence is a crime under section 308C of the Crimes Act 1900, which carries a maximum penalty equivalent to that of the intended offence.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You caused an unauthorised computer function
  2. You knew the function was unauthorised, and
  3. You intended by doing so to commit a serious indictable offence, or to facilitate the commission of a serious indictable offence, whether by you or another person.

‘Unauthorised computer function’ means:

  1. Unauthorised access to data held in a computer
  2. Unauthorised modification of data held in a computer, or
  3. Unauthorised impairment of an electronic communication to or from a computer.

‘Data held in a computer’ means:

  1. Data entered or copied into a computer
  2. Data held in any removable storage which was in a computer for a time, or
  3. Data held in any data storage device on a computer network of which a computer forms a part.

‘Access’ to data held in a computer means:

  1. The display of data by the computer or any other output of the data
  2. The copying or moving of the data to any other place in the computer or to any data storage device, or
  3. The execution of any program.

‘Modification’ of data held in a computer means:

  1. The alteration or removal of data, or
  2. The addition of data.

‘Impairment’ of an electronic communication means:

  1. The prevention of any such communication, or
  2. The impairment of any such communication on an electronic link or network.

‘Impairment’ does not include the mere interception of a communication.

A computer function is ‘unauthorised’ if you were not entitled to cause it.

A ‘serious indictable offence’ is one that carries a maximum penalty of at least 5 years in prison.

You may be found guilty of the offence even if:

  1. The commission of the intended serious indictable offence was impossible, or
  2. The intended serious indictable offence was to be committed at a later time.

Duress is a defence to the charge.

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