Computers have become integral in our daily lives in our businesses and in our homes. With this increase, cyber crime has also seen a massive increase in cases and severity. If a group, or an individual, uses a computer, phone, any online device to commit a crime that is very simply what defines a cyber crime in Florida. A skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney can help define the details on a case by case basis. Getting an experienced lawyer’s advice is always helpful.
Title XLVI, Chapter 815, known as the “Florida Computer Crimes Act” contains recently created computer-related crimes. This list is always changing, as groups (or individuals) are constantly finding ways to commit actual online crimes.
Below is a partial list of the most common cyber crimes:
- Uploading or downloading child pornography-or the solicitation of a minor.
- Hacking-Using a computer to gain access to another computer or network.
- Phishing-Trying to gain access to another person’s financial information.
- Credit Card and Bank Fraud-Gaining access to credit card information and internal bank information.
- Intellectual Property Theft or Data Theft- Stealing actual data from another network, or business.
- The term “Corporate Espionage” is one you might hear in relation to cyber crimes, and it is a form of stealing data, or plans, of another.
- Cyber Extortion: Locking up another’s computer or network until the victim pays an actual ransom.
- Transmission of materials harmful to minors to a minor by electronic device- Commonly referred to as cyber bullying, but also can include actions like “sexting,” “cyber stalking,” and “video voyeurism.”
There are many others that now may carry very serious charges and jail time. Cyber crime has surpassed all other types of white collar crimes in Florida, as well as many other places in the world. The losses due to these crimes have also increased.
The scope and nature of these crimes are growing almost weekly. If you are under investigation for a cyber crime that is prosecuted under the Florida Computer Crimes act, then it is highly advisable to get a local cyber crimes defense attorney, because as stated, many of these types of crimes carry fines and penalties (including jail time) far beyond what you may think possible.
What Might Happen if You are Charged with a Cyber Crime?
If you are actually charged with a cyber crime, your computers, phones, tablets, or any online device, may be confiscated. All your emails, social media, texts, or any other messages will be searched and thoroughly sifted through by law enforcement experts in the field. All law enforcement agencies in Florida, from city and county to FDLE and the FBI, take these crimes extremely seriously. They have expanded their investigative departments extensively, and employ some of the leading experts in the computer field.
Cyber crimes are very actively pursued by law enforcement and, in most cases, can result in a serious felony charge. Usually these crimes start as a Third Degree Felony, but if the victim was being defrauded, their property gone after, or if they were harmed in any way (cyber bullying, etc.), the charge may be elevated to a Second Degree Felony or worse. Even a Third Degree Felony in Florida is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and up to a $5000 fine. In numerous cases, because of the far reaching nature of cyber crimes, multiple changes may be made against the cyber criminal. An experienced, local criminal attorney is vitally important for your defense in these types of crimes.
Sometimes you may clink on a disguised link and end up on a site that you would never go to normally. Other times your rights may be violated by the way law enforcement carried out investigations and actions in your case. You might inadvertently go to a site that would be considered illegal. Due to the many different types of cyber crimes, and also the fact that they are fairly recent to the law, not all attorneys have the necessary experience needed.
If you are in the Tampa Bay area, or any part of Florida, and charged with a cyber crime, you require an attorney that has not only an extensive legal background, and years of courtroom experience, but an attorney who really fights for defendants rights, and understands the specifics of cyber crimes and their penalties.
What are the Defenses Against a Cybercrime Allegation?
Two defenses against various types of cyber crimes in Florida are authorization and lack of participation. The first of these, authorization, means simply that someone has given you authorization to access, work on, or repair the system and that you actually did nothing illegal in accessing their content.
The rights to a network (or computer) can be difficult to prove, and usually involve documents and various communications. A good attorney can dig into these communications and, at times and with the proper experience, mount a good defense. The information your attorney obtains could be most important if the case ends up in a courtroom.
Also, simply, any lack of participation in a cyber crime may also be used as a possible defense. If you are doing work for a friend, company, or boss and that work leads to your involvement in a cyber crime, you can possibly defend the actions by making it clear that you did not know (in reality) what they were asking you to do.
Arguably, this defense is rarely allowed, and the testimony of why you were doing what you were and what you were trying to accomplish for them, will determine the outcome. Many times the defendant may have to testify against the friend, company, or boss in order to really have this defense be successful.
The aggressiveness in which these cases are prosecuted, and the serious consequences that can occur, make it crucial that the defendant retain a cyber crime attorney that has an extensive legal background and years of courtroom experience. If you are under investigation, or arrested for a cyber crime, you need an attorney who fights back! You need a lawyer who is dedicated to the field of cyber crime defense.