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Computer Crimes

The ever-expanding digital landscape provides people with a multitude of new tools to communicate, work, and seek entertainment. Unfortunately, technological innovations have also increased the number of ways that criminals break the law.

Online offenses—commonly referred to as “cybercrime”—can result in state or federal charges, both of which carry extremely harsh penalties. Computer-related offenses are extremely complex matters, and innocent people can be accused of committing unlawful acts when they themselves may have been the victims of hacking or identity theft.

Computer Crimes Lawyer in Broward County, Florida

If you were arrested or think that you might be the target of an investigation in South Florida for an alleged cybercrime, it is in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation with a solid understanding of how prosecutors handle these types of cases. The Hoffman Firm aggressively defends clients accused of white collar offenses in Dania Beach, Lauderhill, Hallandale Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Margate, and many surrounding communities in Broward County.

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman has experience on both sides of the aisle as a former Assistant State Attorney for the Broward County State Attorney’s Office. You can have him provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (954) 524-4474 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.


Overview of Computer Crimes in Fort Lauderdale


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Types of Florida Computer Crimes Act Offenses

The “Florida Computer Crimes Act” is comprised of the statutes established in Chapter 815 of the Florida Statutes. Some of the state criminal offenses listed under this chapter include:

Florida Statute § 815.04 — Offenses against intellectual property

It is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $5,000 if an alleged offender willfully, knowingly, and without authorization:

  • 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;
  • 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; or
  • 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.

An offense can also be classified as a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000 if the alleged crime was “committed for the purpose of devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud or to obtain any property.”

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

It is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $5,000 if an alleged offender 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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; or
  • Introduces any computer contaminant into any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device.

An offense can also be classified as a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000 if the alleged offender:

  • Committed the offense for the purpose of devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud or obtain property;
  • Damaged a computer, computer equipment or supplies, a computer system, or a computer network and the damage or loss was at least $5,000;
  • 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; or
  • Interrupted or impaired a governmental operation or public communication, transportation, or supply of water, gas, or other public service.

Any of the offenses listed above can also be classified as a first-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000 if the alleged crime 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.

Florida Statute § 815.061 — Offenses against public utilities

It is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $5,000 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.

An alleged offense can be classified as a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000 if the 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.


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Computer Crimes Under Federal Law

By definition, nearly every computer, cell phone, or mobile device can be “used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or communication.” Virtually cybercrime can thus fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government, and federal computer offenses are often prosecuted under Title 18 U.S. Code § 1030, or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

Some of the offenses listed under the CFAA include:

  • Causing Computer Damage, 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5) — Depending on whether the alleged offender intentionally, recklessly, or negligently caused damage by intentional access, convictions can range from a maximum sentence 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.
  • Computer Espionage, 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(1) — Convictions are punishable a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the first offense or a maximum sentence of 20 years for second and subsequent offenses and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for organizations.
  • Computer Fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(4) — Convictions are punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the first offense or a maximum sentence of 10 years for second and subsequent offenses and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for organizations.
  • Extortionate Threats, 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(7) — Convictions are punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the first offense or a maximum sentence of 10 years for second and subsequent offenses and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for organizations.
  • Obtaining Information by Unauthorized Computer Access, 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2) — Violations of this statute involve a three tier sentencing structure. Simple violations are punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in prison and/or a maximum fine of $100,000 for individuals or $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 a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for organizations. Third tier violations involving repeat offenders are punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for organizations.
  • Trafficking in Computer Access, 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(6) — Convictions are punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in prison and/or a maximum fine of $100,000 for individuals or $200,000 for organizations for first offenses. Subsequent offenses are punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for organizations.
  • Trespassing in Government Cyberspace, 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(3) — Convictions are punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in prison and/or a maximum fine of $100,000 for individuals or $200,000 for organizations for first offenses. Subsequent violations are punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for organizations.

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Florida Computer Crime Arrest Resources

Florida Computer Crimes Act — With the passage of these statutes in 1978, Florida became the first state in the nation to enact a cybercrime law. Visit this website to view the full text of the Computer Crimes Act. You can learn more about the legislative intent of the act as well as specific definitions applicable to Chapter 815 of the Florida Statutes.

Cybercrime: An Overview of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Statute and Related Federal Criminal Laws — The Congressional Research Service provides policy and legal analysis to committees and members of both houses of the United States Congress. This report provides a thorough overview of the CFAA and related federal criminal laws. You can learn more about penalties, jurisdiction, and forfeiture in this report.


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The Hoffman Firm | Lawyer for Computer Crimes in Broward County, FL

Do you believe that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for an alleged cybercrime in South Florida? Do not say anything to authorities until you have contacted The Hoffman Firm.

Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale who represents clients all over Broward County, including Plantation, Deerfield Beach, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Davie, and several other nearby areas. Call (954) 524-4474 or complete an online contact form today to receive a free consultation that will let our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options.


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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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