In the digital age, crime has gone virtual, so what are cyber crimes and how are they prosecuted? Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Cyber Crime?
In general, cyber crimes are criminal acts that occur over the internet. However, the reality of these crimes is far more complex. The Federal Bureau of Investigation established their cyber crime investigation unit after a rise in cyber attacks and intrusions into private information.
Cyber crimes can be as simple as hacking into a person’s bank account or as large scale as collecting or selling large quantities of child sex abuse material. It is also important to note that cyber crimes may be syndicated or occur among individuals or large entities.
Overall, cyber crime is often thought of as a parallel virtual world where crime occurs in a similar way to the real world. However, it is important to understand that while a crime may take place online, it is still a crime and can be punished severely.
Recently, the Florida legislature passed a bill that makes the production, sale, and distribution of explicit images felony and will strengthen existing laws applying to child sexual abuse material, bestiality and revenge porn.
Additionally, the law addresses deepfakes – a recent internet phenomenon where high resolution edited images of a person or persons are depicted as performing an act, they never actually partook in. Deepfakes have been used to show a person saying things they never said or doing something shameful. IN some cases, deepfakes of, more often than not, female lawmakers and women in positions of power are shown in deepfake images and videos as participants in sexual situations as a form of degradation.
Revenge porn is also specifically addressed in the new law. Essentially, revenge porn is sexual material that has been sold or uploaded to the internet as a form of revenge against an ex-partner. Revenge porn is most often used against women but can involve men and non-binary or genderfluid individuals as well.
Penalties for Cyber Crimes
As mentioned previously, cyber crimes come in all shapes and sizes and can be punished differently. However, there are basic guidelines in Florida for how these crimes are punished in court.
Generally, due to the nature of most cyber crimes, Miami courts prosecute them as felonies. Depending on the type of crime and degree of harm it could be either a third, second, or first degree felony.
- Third-degree felony: Applicable to crimes involving offenses against intellectual property, theft, or fraud. Punishment includes no more than five years in prison and fines up to $5,000.
- Second-degree felony: Applicable to all first-degree crimes but have increased penalties if the criminal act resulted in disruption to government operations or public spaces, over $5,000 in damage or loss, or was part of a scheme to commit fraud. Punishment includes a prison sentence of up to 15 years and fines up to $10,000.
- First-degree felonies: Crimes endangering human life and those depicting adults or minors in sexual situations could be included in this category. Punishment includes up to 30 years in prison and fines of $10,000 or more.
While cyber-crimes have degrees of punishment equal to the harm they cause, it is important to recognize that there are few if any chances for cyber crime charges to be reduced to a misdemeanor. Almost all internet crimes are considered felonies which stay on a person’s criminal record and may prevent they from taking equal part in society.
New laws applying to revenge porn are important, but it is equally important to recognize that with these laws comes an influx of accusations against innocent people. Revenge porn is used to humiliate and destroy people, but accusations of revenge porn can be used to do the same. Individuals facing these charges could spend time in prison and lose many of their rights and privileges as a result.
If you have been charged for a cyber-crime in Miami, contact The Hoffman Firm immediately.