As computer crimes become increasingly common in Florida, several counties have expanded efforts to detect and prosecute these offenses. For example, federal funds now support a cyber-crime reporting hotline in Seminole, Osceola and Orange counties.
Before facing a court date, learn more about how Florida defines and penalizes computer-related crime.
Intellectual property offenses
Crimes against intellectual property include any willful, knowing and unauthorized actions that modify, contaminate or destroy documents, programs, data or software from a system, network, computer or device, such as hacking or transmission of a computer virus. This category also includes the disclosure or theft of confidential data or trade secrets from a system, network, computer or device.
Crimes against users
Offenses that impact computer users include willful, knowing and unauthorized actions such as:
- Taking an audio or visual recording of a person through his or her computer network, system or device without knowledge or consent
- Introducing a virus into any computer network, system or device
- Damaging or destroying a network, system, computer or device or related supplies and equipment
- Interrupting or disrupting data transmission between authorized devices, networks or systems
- Gaining unauthorized access to a system, network or device
Penalties for computer crimes
Both types of crimes default to third-degree felony charges, which can result in a $5,000 fine, up to five years in prison and/or five years of probation. When the person commits an intellectual property crime for fraudulent purposes, it can become a second-degree felony punishable by a $10,000 fine, up to 15 years in prison and/or 15 years’ probation.
A crime against a computer user can become a second-degree felony if the offender:
- Caused at least $5,000 in damage
- Intended to commit fraud
- Impacted a government agency, public transit authority or public utility
First-degree felony charges result if the violation impacts life-saving medical equipment or otherwise endangered a person’s life. These charges carry a $10,000 fine, up to 30 years in prison and/or 30 years’ probation.