Computer and internet attacks, fraud, and abuse are quickly growing areas of crime in Florida. Swift advances in technology and the speed, convenience, and anonymity of the internet mean that crime has become easier to commit, and the list of potential criminal acts has expanded. If you have been charged with a computer or internet crime in Florida, you need a dedicated and experienced defense attorney to aggressively protect your rights in court.Computer Crime
The possible types of computer- or internet-based crime are nearly endless, but there are three main categories:
- Attacking computer software or hardware;
- Financial crimes; and
- Online abuse.
Computer hacking is a broad category of crime that includes such various illegal activities as:
- Introducing a computer virus;
- Modifying or destroying data or programs;
- Accessing computer services, such as email, bank accounts, or social media accounts without permission; and
- The unauthorized taking or disclosure of data or programs that are confidential or trade secrets.
The Florida Attorney General’s Office has established a Cyber Fraud Section to deal with those suspected of committing internet fraud against consumers. Internet fraud is the use of online services to defraud or take advantage of victims. It can include, among other offenses:
- Credit card fraud;
- Identity theft;
- Stealing personal information;
- Distributing rogue security software;
- Phishing; and
- Hacking into financial services.
The third major category of internet and computer crime is using the internet or electronic devices to commit abuse crimes against victims. Offenses include:
Child pornography, meaning the transmission to another person, through any medium, including the internet or any electronic device, of any sexually explicit image of a minor;
Computer pornography, which is committed by using the internet or a computer to solicit a minor or distribute a minor’s personal information for purposes of offering or soliciting sexual conduct with a minor;
Cyberstalking, which includes communication through email, the internet, or other electronic means that is directed at a specific individual, causes serious emotional distress, and has no other legitimate purpose; and
Revenge porn, or sexual cyberharassment, meaning posting a sexually explicit image of another person online without that person’s consent and with no legitimate purpose.
Most online abuse offenses are third degree felonies, though cyberstalking is generally a first degree misdemeanor. However, it will be charged as a third degree felony if:
- It is a second or subsequent offense;
- The stalking is repeated and malicious;
- The acts are in violation of a protective order; or
- It is committed against a child under the age of 16.
The use of the internet facilitates the commission of crime across state borders. However, state law enforcement cannot get warrants, issue subpoenas, or arrest suspects outside their jurisdictions. Thus, computer and internet crimes are often prosecuted on a federal level.
The Internet Crime Compliance Center is a federal multi-agency force that receives, develops, and refers criminal complaints involving the internet. There are several federal statutes involving internet crime, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and various statutes addressing computer and internet sex crimes, including obscenity, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children, and transportation for illegal sexual activity.
If you have been arrested for or charged with an internet or computer crime, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein to schedule an initial consultation.