What Are the Arizona Cyber Crime Laws (ARS 13-2316)?

computer hacker -- ars 13-2316

What Are the Arizona Cyber Crime Laws (ARS 13-2316)?

In today’s world, people use computers for everything. From business deals to banking transactions to ordering groceries online, computers are a mainstay in our lives. This increased use of computers has sparked a rise in cyber crimes. In Arizona, if you are charged with a cyber crime, you may find yourself facing felony charges under law ARS 13-2316: Computer Tampering.

What Are Arizona Cyber Crime Laws? 

There are three main laws for cyber crimes in Arizona: computer tampering, unlawful possession of an access device, and unauthorized release of information. Let’s go over each type of cyber law and look at some examples.

ARS 13-2316: Computer Tampering

Arizona law defines computer tampering as the act of accessing, changing, damaging, or destroying a computer or part of a computer system or network, or changing or deleting computer programs or data, without authorization. 

Some examples of possible charges under ARS 13-2316 include: 

  • A disgruntled employee removes or deletes important files off their work laptop before giving it back. 
  • A high school student pranks his school by placing a virus on their system, wiping out student grades. 
  • A Phoenix resident hacks into the network of a local bank intending to steal bank customer social security numbers. 

To be found guilty of ARS 13-2316, a prosecutor must prove that: 

  1. The defendant’s actions caused emotional distress to the victims involved.
  2. The defendant’s actions served no legitimate purpose.


ARS 13-2316.01: Unlawful Possession of an Access Device

ARS 13-2316.01 says it is illegal for a person to possess and somehow distribute an “access device” without the consent of the person who owns it. Arizona law defines an access device as any card, account number, code, password, or encryption key that could be used to access an electronic device like a computer or cellphone. 

Additionally, Arizona law presumes that a person possessing five or more access devices—such as passwords or encryption keys—without the owner’s consent does intend to use or distribute them, such as giving or selling them to others to use. 


ARS 13-2316.02: Unauthorized Release of Proprietary or Confidential Computer Security Information

Arizona law states that if a person talks about or distributes confidential security information about a computer or network—such as passwords or encryption keys—without the computer owner’s knowledge, they can face a felony crime under ARS 13-2316.02

For example, if a young female teacher at a college gives her password to the college’s main computer system for a student to check their grades without the college’s permission, she could be found guilty under ARS 13-2316.02. 

What Are the Penalties for Arizona Cyber Crimes?

All three Arizona cyber crime laws above carry potential felony charges

  • ARS 13-2316 charges are normally class 3 or 4 felonies, with potential sentences of 2.5 to 3.5 years in jail. However, an ARS 13-2316 charge can result in a class 2 felony with up to 5 years in prison if the crime affected a critical infrastructure system, such as a power grid. 
  • ARS 13-2316.01 charges range from a class 4 to 6 felony—with potential penalties of between 1 to 2.5 years in jail—depending upon how many access devices a defendant is found with. 
  • ARS 13-2316.02 charges are generally class 6 felonies with a possible penalty of about one year in jail. If the defendant’s actions affected a critical infrastructure system, they may face a class 4 felony with more jail time. 

Cyber Crime Lawyer in Phoenix

In Arizona, cyber crimes are serious offenses, carrying sentences of years behind bars and felony convictions. If you face charges under ARS 13-2316 or other related cyber crime laws, the good news is there are a variety of defenses a criminal defense attorney can use to fight for the best outcome possible. 

The Law Offices of Todd Coolidge specialize in defending Arizona residents charged with cyber crimes. Call us or send a message to schedule a consultation at our Phoenix or Chandler locations. 

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