We all get emails, and for most of us, we believe we get too many emails. While we send and receive e-mails on a daily basis, we never think that transmitting a message could result in a criminal charge. Some emails are viewed as scams, a way to steal a person’s identity or even obtain intellectual property. These are labeled as Internet crimes, and such a charge could seriously impact the accused as they carry with them serious penalties.

According to Florida statute 815.04, an offense against intellectual property occurs when a person introduces a computer contaminant willfully, knowingly and without the authorization of the owner. This also includes modifying or rendering information, data, programs and documents unavailable. This offense also occurs when a person willfully, knowingly and without authorization destroys data, programs or documents that reside or exist in the internal or external computer. Finally, this offense could occur when a person willfully, knowingly and without authorization discloses or takes information, data, programs and other documentation that is defined as a trade secret.

Theses offenses are charged as a third degree felony. However, if the offense is deemed to be committed for the purpose of devising or executing a scheme or a mechanism to defraud or obtain any property, the accused will face a felony in the second degree. Felony charges are serious and should be treated as such. Such a criminal charge could mean facing harsh penalties like hefty fines and a prison term. Thus, it is important to understand the details of the supposed crime, the evidence used against and potential criminal defense strategies.

An Internet crime charge, such as one related to a phishing scam, could significantly impact the accused. Thus, it is not only important to understand the details of the alleged crime but also the defense options available. This could help a defendant avoid harsh penalties.

Source: Leg.state.fl.us, “CHAPTER 815: COMPUTER-RELATED CRIMES,” accessed April 12, 2018