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Computer Hacking Defense
PC 502 Crimes

Information on the crime of computer hacking is found at California penal code section 502. To hack into a computer means to gain access to digital files without consent.

It is a crime to gain access to another person's digital files or information without consent. It does not matter if the person who gains access to those digital files or information without consent uses the information. Digital files include many types of information stored on computer hardware and software, and even on computer servers, emails, websites, and more.

Sentence for PC 502

PC 502 crimes come many varieties. Some means of computer hacking can lead to damage of the computing device, such as malware, whereas other types of computer hacking is intended to snoop into a person's personal digital files. Because there is not one type of computer hacking crime the law has separated the different types of crimes and their respective punishments. One of the most common charges of computer hacking is found at penal code 502(c).

PC 502(c): Unauthorized Computer Access is charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor. Felony PC 502(c) carries up to a 3 year jail sentence; misdemeanor PC 502(c) carries up to a 1 year jail sentence.

Note: Computer hacking is more likely to be charged as a felony if the defendant has a criminal history of computer hacking, the loss to the victim is more than $950 in term of computer damage or financial loss.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision, with or without, some actual jail time, work release, or house arrest. Probation sentences are allowed in PC 502 crimes, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not the defendant is granted a probation sentence, or is offered a probation sentence as part of a plea bargain, depends largely on the sophistication of the computer hacking, the loss to the victim, and the defendant's criminal history.

Good Behavior Credits: If the defendant is ordered to serve a jail sentence or a work release sentence, or both, he or she may have that sentence reduced by half for good behavior. For example, if the defendant is sentenced to six months of jail as part of a probation sentence, that six months will be reduced to three months if the defendant is on his or her good behavior while in jail.

PC 1170(h): If found guilty of PC 502(c), the defendant may be able to have any jail sentence ordered split (serve half of the jail sentence in custody and serve half of the jail sentence out of custody on work release or house arrest).

Three Strikes Law: Computer hacking is not a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law.

CIMT: Computer hacking that is used to commit theft is a crime involving moral turpitude. A crime involving moral turpitude is a crime that involves dishonesty or is morally wrong. Crimes involving moral turpitude, including computer hacking, can have severe consequences for licensed professionals (doctors, dentists, lawyers, nurses, etc.), and for those who are not United State citizens (deportation or denial of entry into the United States).

In addition to the punishment describe above, if found guilty of computer hacking, the defendant could suffer the following punishments: criminal protective orders, fines and fees, restitution, professional licensing consequences, immigration consequences, denial of entry in the armed services, civil lawsuits, loss of the right to own or possess a firearm (for felony PC 502 convictions), and more.

Bail: The San Bernardino County bail schedule sets the amount of bail for felony computer hacking, charged under PC 502(c), at $25,000, or the amount lost or stolen due to the computer hacking, whichever is greater, and $5,000 for misdemeanor computer hacking.

PC 502 Defense

The most common defense to a charge of computer hacking includes: consent, mistake of fact, insufficient evidence as to who hacked the computer or network, illegal search and seizure, statute of limitations, and more.

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of computer hacking, or PC 502, contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers are available everyday to assist you. Call today!.


Quick Reference​ Sheet

Crime: Computer Hacking

Code: PC 502(c)

Wobbler: Yes. PC 502(c) is a wobbler crime. This means that PC 502(c) may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.


Incarceration:Felony PC 502(c) jail sentence range: 16 months, 2 or 3 years (if probation not granted). Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.

Probation: Probation is available in PC 502(c) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

PC 1170(h)): Yes. PC 502(c) is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:

  • Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)

  • Suspended (possibly never served)

  • Served in county jail (not state prison)

  • Note: Limitations may apply

Strike: PC 502(c) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.​


Firearms: Felony PC 502(c) convictions prohibit defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.

Bail: $25,000 (Felony); $5,000 (Misdemeanor) or amount stolen, whichever is more (San Bernardino County)

Computer Hacking PC 502(c) Criminal defense lawyer attorney sentence punishment penalty jail prison misdemeanor felony Redlands Yucaipa san Bernardino rialto colton fontana rancho Cucamonga Ontario Victorville highland Hesperia loma linda se habla espanol Spanish abogado hs California ca crime penal code

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