The Florida Computer Crimes Act

penalties for getting caught hacking

The Florida Computer Crimes Act governs numerous actions that cover computer crimes such as fraudulently making online purchases with other’s accounts to purposely hacking into large networks to cause substantial scale interruption of services. These primary offenses involve crimes against intellectual property and/or crimes against computer users. The state of Florida recognizes that hacking, trading unauthorized information, and other such electronic offenses cause devastating damages to victims.

Those facing violations of the Florida Computer Crimes Act should consult with an attorney right away. State law enforcement takes these types of crimes seriously, and the potential sentences if convicted are severe with lifelong consequences.

The Florida Computer Crimes Act

Florida Statute 815 addresses the need to increase the prosecution of computer-related crimes to curb illegal activity conducted through certain electronic devices. These changes affect more than just the state’s residents; it also affects government agencies and private businesses. By expanding the definition of a computer system to mean additional smart devices like our mobile phones and smart TVs, criminals have fewer opportunities to commit online crimes.

Typical computer crimes covered by the law are:

Types of Florida Computer Crimes Act Offenses

The Florida Computer Crimes Act lays out two categories of violations which involve offenses against involving intellectual property and those against computer users. Each class has its own set of standards of proof and heavy penalties because of the varying situations that may occur.

Offenses Against Intellectual Property

Intellectual property offenses include actions of damaging, theft, destruction, disabling, and/or illegal distribution of intellectual property. All manner of companies across all industries are usually victims of these types of crimes. Some common computer crimes that fall under offenses against intellectual property include:  

  • Theft or distribution of confidential or proprietary data
  • Purposeful installation of harmful programs like malware and viruses onto someone’s computer system
  • Destruction of computer data or programs of others without permission
  • Making computer data inaccessible to others

Any offense carried out against intellectual property is a third-degree felony in Florida. An individual convicted of this crime may receive up to five years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine.

If the offender committed the offense with the intention of scam or steal property, the felony upgrades to the second degree. The sentence a conviction may bring is a prison term of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Offenses Against Computer Users

Crimes committed against those who use computers is a second-degree in Florida. This violation category has expanded rapidly over the years to include a large number of computing devices we use today. Offenses of this nature range widely but usually involve some of these aspects:

  • Damage of no less than $5,000 occurred to a computer, equipment, system, or network
  • The offense was intended to exercise a scheme to defraud others or acquire property illegally
  • Disruption of the normal operations of a government entity or public service entity
  • Compromisation of a private or public transit system

These offenses generally classify as a felony of the third degree with prison time of up to 5 years and a maximum possible fine of $5,000.

This crime may be prosecuted as a second-degree felony with up to 15 years in prison and a fine maximum of $10,000. For this to occur, the offender must have done one or some of the following:

  • Damages computer property, systems or networks, and the loss total exceeds $5,000
  • Commits the offense with intentions to defraud or obtain property
  • Interferes with the operation of government, public communication, utility services, and/or transportation services
  • Interferes with any public or private transportation data transmissions or has unauthorized access to these systems

A first-degree felony charge is sought against a defendant if the actions endangered human life due to illegal disruption, access, tampering or sharing of information by the alleged offender. The sentencing could include a prison sentence of up to 30 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Florida Computer Crime Defenses

A good defense is critical in successfully fighting a felony computer crime in the state of Florida. The state prosecution has the responsibility to prove that the alleged offender knew and intentionally accessed, modified, or damaged computer devices or networks that were not their own. To properly defend against this scenario, a knowledgeable attorney with cybercrime defense experience needs to build your case. Some defense strategies your attorney might use include:

You Were Authorized

If the defendant had access or can prove they genuinely believed to have had it, there is not a crime committed

Lack of Knowledge

A key aspect the prosecution must prove to win a conviction is purposeful intent to cause harm. Sometimes the accused don’t realize a crime has taken place.

No Evidence

Computer crimes are often anonymous and are difficult to prove. Trying to blame one person, in particular, is even more challenging. The prosecution must have clear and convincing evidence that the defendant committed the crime beyond the shadow of a doubt. If they fail to do so, they lose their case.

Orlando Computer Crime Defense Lawyers

The harsh consequences that Orlando courts hand down for violations of the Florida Computer Crimes Act demands an experienced criminal defense attorney. Trying to treat these types of charges as a laughing matter could cost your freedom, finances, and future. At the Umansky Law Firm, our attorneys are not only active members on the American Bar Association, but are also proud members of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The Umansky Law Firm understands what prosecutors need to win a conviction because of our own previous experience working in state courts. Our over 100 years of combined criminal defense practice ensures you get a legal team that fights aggressively against these types of allegations and charges. Contact our office today at (407) 228-3838 for a free evaluation of your current computer crimes case.