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.