Let's create a hypothetical using the trucking industry as a parallel: A trucking company owns many jointed trucks (semi-tractors) and trailers. It also employs many drivers, as well as managers for those drivers. In the United States, it's illegal to operate a jointed truck without a commercial driver's license (CDL). The operation of these large trucks is simply too complex and difficult to allow anyone without a CDL to drive them. These laws exist for the safety of everyone concerned -- nobody wants to be on the same highway as an 18-wheeler with an unlicensed and highly dangerous driver.
Now let's say that the trucking company has fired all the drivers, except for one. The remaining driver with a CDL is brought into a room with his manager (who doesn't have a CDL because his job doesn't involve driving these trucks), and his manager demands that the driver give him the keys to the truck, as the manager intends to drive the truck from now on. The driver is in a quandary: The company owns the truck and technically owns the keys. His manager is demanding that the trucker give him those keys so that the manager can drive, but the manager doesn't have the license, skills, knowledge, or experience to accomplish the task, and allowing the manager to do so many endanger many people, not to mention the truck.
What's the trucker to do? In this case, if the trucker gives the keys to the manager and the manager illegally operates the vehicle, causing harm or damage, the trucker could be considered an accomplice -- he allowed the manager to perform these acts by relinquishing the keys.
But trucking is an established industry, one that has laws requiring specific skills to operate the machinery that have long existed. There are no such laws preventing the unskilled and incompetent from operating high-end network equipment. Anyone with a computer and a password can log in and wreak havoc.
It's also quite interesting to compare the Childs case to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's armed takeover of Maricopa County's Integrated Criminal Justice Information System. The Maricopa (Arizona) County Sheriff's Office sent armed deputies to raid the offices of that computer network and gain administrative control. On the face of it, this would fit the bill of "denial of service" as put forth by the San Francisco DA in the Terry Childs case. While the network didn't go down, the deputies essentially gained sole control over the administrative functions of the network from the network's owners, much like Childs had when he refused to relinquish the passwords -- but they weren't employed to handle the operation and maintenance of the network, and they did it with armed force. Which is the real crime?
It's likely that Childs will be released from prison if his new bail reduction motion is granted. He's been in jail for 14 months on $5 million bail. He will go to trial for the remaining charge within 60 days, and it's possible that this story may finally come to a close.