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Florida Computer Crimes Laws

As a category, "computer crimes" include unlawful acts related to computers, computer systems, and computer networks. The individuals who participate in computer crimes are often known as "hackers." Common hacking activities range from unauthorized use of another person's email account or computer to unauthorized access with an intent to cripple an entire large-scale computer network. The Florida Computer Crimes Act is split into two types of offenses: crimes against intellectual property and crimes against computer users.

To learn more about computer crimes generally, see FindLaw's Cyber Crimes and Online Scams sections.

Florida Computer Crime Laws at a Glance

Statute

Florida Statutes Title XLVI. Crimes § 815.01

Florida Computer Crimes Act: Offenses Against Intellectual Property

A person who willfully, knowingly, and without authorization does any of the following acts commits an offense against intellectual property:

  1. 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.
  2. Destroys data, programs, or supporting documentation residing or existing internal or external to a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device.
  3. Discloses or takes data, programs, or supporting documentation that is 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.
Florida Computer Crimes Act: Offenses Against Computer Users

A person commits an offense against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, or electronic devices if he or she willfully, knowingly, and without authorization:

  1. Accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device with knowledge that such access is unauthorized;
  2. 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;
  3. Destroys, takes, injures, or damages equipment or supplies used or intended to be used in a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device;
  4. Destroys, injures, or damages any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device;
  5. Introduces any computer contaminant into any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device; or
  6. 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.
Sentences and Penalties

Offenses Against Intellectual Property

  • 3rd degree felony
  • 2nd degree felony if offense is committed for the purpose of devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud or to obtain any property

Offenses Against Computer Users

  • 3rd degree felony
  • 2nd degree felony if perpetrator:
    • Damages a computer, computer equipment or supplies, a computer system, or a computer network and the damage or loss is at least $5,000;
    • Commits the offense for the purpose of devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud or obtain property;
    • Interrupts or impairs a governmental operation or public communication, transportation, or supply of water, gas, or other public service; or
    • Intentionally interrupts the transmittal of data to or from, or gains unauthorized access to, a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device belonging to any mode of public or private transit.
  • 1st degree felony if the violation:
    • Endangers human life; or
    • Disrupts 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.
Defenses to Computer Crime Charges
  • Authorization given by the owner of the computer, computer system, or computer network
  • Lack of willful and knowing participation in the offense

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Florida criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources

Have an Attorney Evaluate Your Criminal Charges

As you can see, there is a wide range of charges and respective penalties for committing a computer crime in the state of Florida -- and all such offenses are charged as felonies. If you have been charged with a computer crime or another offense, you should consider having a defense attorney give your charges an initial review at no cost.

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