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Computer Crimes

As technology continues to grow, the number of criminal offenses committed online or using computer technology also expands. Internet offenses, also commonly referred to as “cybercrime,” are an area of the law that be vigorously prosecuted by state or federal prosecutors.

Alleged computer offenses often carry severe penalties that may include stiff prison sentences as well fines that could possibly be hundreds of thousands of dollars. In many of these types of case, alleged offenders can find themselves facing criminal charges despite any knowing intent to break the law or harm other parties.

Lawyer for Computer Crimes in Miami-Dade County, FL

Have you been arrested or do you believe that you are currently under investigation for an alleged cybercrime in Florida? Do not say anything to authorities without legal representation. The Hoffman Firm can fight to make sure your rights are protected.

Miami criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman is a former prosecutor who aggressively defends clients accused of all kinds of white collar crimes in Opa-locka, Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, North Miami, and many surrounding areas in Miami-Dade County. He will provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (305) 249-0090 to take advantage of a completely free initial consultation.


North Miami Computer Crimes Information Center


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Offenses Under Florida Computer Crimes Act

Chapter 815 of the Florida Statutes is known as the “Florida Computer Crimes Act.” Numerous kinds of acts can be considered computer crimes under state law, and the alleged offenders are not always so-called hackers.

People can face criminal charges for various types of alleged crimes involving computers, but the offenses specifically established under the Florida Computer Crimes Act include the following:

Offenses against intellectual property (Florida Statute § 815.04)

An alleged offender can be charged under this statute is he or she willfully, knowingly, and without authorization:

  • introduces a computer contaminant or modifies or renders unavailable data, programs, or supporting documentation residing or existing internal or external to a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device commits an offense against intellectual property;
  • destroys data, programs, or supporting documentation residing or existing internal or external to a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device commits an offense against intellectual property; or
  • discloses or takes data, programs, or supporting documentation that is defined as a trade secret or is confidential as provided by law residing or existing internal or external to a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device commits an offense against intellectual property.

An offense under this statute is classified as a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. If the alleged offense was “committed for the purpose of devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud or to obtain any property,” then the crime is classified as a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, and electronic devices (Florida Statute § 815.06)

An alleged offender can be charged under this statute is he or she willfully, knowingly, and without authorization:

  • Accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device with knowledge that such access is unauthorized;
  • Disrupts or denies or causes the denial of the ability to transmit data to or from an authorized user of a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device, which, in whole or in part, is owned by, under contract to, or operated for, on behalf of, or in conjunction with another;
  • Destroys, takes, injures, or damages equipment or supplies used or intended to be used in a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device;
  • Destroys, injures, or damages any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device;
  • Introduces any computer contaminant into any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device; or
  • Engages in audio or video surveillance of an individual by accessing any inherent feature or component of a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device, including accessing the data or information of a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device that is stored by a third party.

An offense under this statute is classified as a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. The crime can be classified as a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if the alleged offender:

  • Damaged a computer, computer equipment or supplies, a computer system, or a computer network and the damage or loss was at least $5,000;
  • Committed the offense for the purpose of devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud or obtain property;
  • Interrupted or impaired a governmental operation or public communication, transportation, or supply of water, gas, or other public service; or
  • Intentionally interrupted the transmittal of data to or from, or gained unauthorized access to, a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device belonging to any mode of public or private transit.

If any of the above actions endangered human life or disrupted a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device that affects medical equipment used in the direct administration of medical care or treatment to a person, then the alleged offense becomes a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Offenses against public utilities (Florida Statute § 815.061)

If an alleged offender willfully, knowingly, and without authorization gains access to a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device owned, operated, or used by a public utility while knowing that such access is unauthorized, the alleged offense is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

If an alleged offender willfully, knowingly, and without authorization physically tampers with, inserts a computer contaminant into, or otherwise transmits commands or electronic communications to a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device that causes a disruption in any service delivered by a public utility, the alleged offense is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.


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Federal Computer Crimes

Cybercrimes prosecuted by the federal government are often brought under violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Because most every computer or cell phone “is used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or communication,” many computers fall under the jurisdiction of the CFAA.

Title 18 U.S. Code § 1030 establishes several federal offenses that carry the following penalties:

  • Computer Espionage — Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(1) are punishable by up to 10 years in prison for the first offense or up to 20 years for second and subsequent offenses and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals or up to $500,000 for organizations.
  • Obtaining Information by Unauthorized Computer Access — Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2) involve a three tier sentencing structure. Simple violations are punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals or up to $200,000 for organizations. Second tier violations—for cases in which the offense was committed for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, the offense was committed in furtherance of any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any state, or the value of the information obtained exceeds $5,000—are punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals or up to $500,000 for organizations. Third tier violations involve repeat offenders and are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals or up to $500,000 for organizations.
  • Trespassing in Government Cyberspace — Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(3) are punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals or up to $200,000 for organizations for first offenses. Subsequent violations are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals or up to $500,000 for organizations.
  • Computer Fraud — Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(4) are punishable by up to five years in prison for the first offense or up to 10 years for second and subsequent offenses and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals or up to $500,000 for organizations.
  • Causing Computer Damage — Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5) have a broad range of penalties depending on whether the alleged offender intentionally, recklessly, or negligently caused damage by intentional access. Punishments range from a maximum of one year in prison and/or a maximum fine of $100,000 for individuals or $200,000 for organizations to a maximum of 20 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for organizations.
  • Trafficking in Computer Access — Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(6) are punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals or up to $200,000 for organizations for first offenses. Subsequent offenses are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals or up to $500,000 for organizations.
  • Extortionate Threats — Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(7) are punishable by up to five years in prison for the first offense or up to 10 years for second and subsequent offenses and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals or up to $500,000 for organizations.

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Florida Resources for Computer Crime Arrests

Florida Computer Crimes Act — Florida was the first state in the nation to enact a cybercrime law when it passed these statutes in 1978. You can view the full text of Chapter 815 of the Florida Statutes. Learn more about specific definitions and the legislative intent of the Computer Crimes Act.

Prosecuting Computer Crimes | U.S. Department of Justice — Federal prosecutors use this manual that examines federal laws relating to computer crimes. You can learn more about the CFAA as well as the Wiretap Act and other network crime statutes relating to identity theft, access device fraud, and communication interference. The manual also covers sentencing, jury instructions, and other special considerations.


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The Hoffman Firm | Computer Crimes Lawyer in Miami, Florida

If you think that you could be under investigation or you have already been arrested for an alleged cybercrime in Florida, you should not make any kind of statement to authorities until you have legal counsel. The Hoffman Firm can investigate the government’s handling of your case and fight to get the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami who serves communities throughout Miami-Dade County, including Hialeah, South Miami, Aventura, Coral Gables, and many more. Call (305) 249-0090 or fill out an online contact form right now to schedule a free consultation that will let our lawyer review your case.


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Free Consultation

All fields are required. The use of this form for communication with our personnel does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Evan A. Hoffman

Evan A. Hoffman

Mr. Hoffman’s philosophy is "our knowledge and experience is your best defense." He has been a featured author on criminal law issues such as driving under the influence, domestic violence and illegal searches.

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