Cyber Crime Lawyer in Miami, FL

Whether you or a loved one has been arrested or is under investigation for computer crimes, it is critical to consult with an experienced cyber crime lawyer in Miami as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. You need the counsel of an experienced internet crime lawyer (a computer crimes attorney) to guide you through the process and maximize your chances of resolving your case with a favorable outcome. It is extremely important that the federal criminal lawyer that represents you understand not just the law but the technology involved in a cybercrime case.

What is Computer Crime?

Often classified as a section 1030 violation, computer crimes are criminal offenses that are typically committed online. Although oftentimes they are motivated by financial gain, there are also cases that are committed for other reasons (e.g., sabotage).  Sometimes actual money is targeted, while other times, the goal is to steal information that may or may not be used to steal money at a later time. “Hacking” refers to the unauthorized access of a computer network and plays a role in many computer crimes.  

There are many criminal offenses, while not technically computer crimes, where a computer can be used in committing the crime. Some examples are stalking, child porn offenses, and identity theft. Using a computer, however, is not always a necessary element of those crimes. It’s always best to consult a computer crime lawyer immediately upon any of these charges. 

Cyber Crime Attorney For State & Federal Computer Crimes

Both the state of Florida and the federal government have passed criminal laws relating to computers. These laws often overlap, meaning that you could theoretically be prosecuted in state court or face federal criminal charges. Practically speaking, the federal government more frequently prosecutes sophisticated/large-scale computer crimes targeting corporate and governmental networks. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS), “is responsible for implementing the Department’s national strategies in combating computer and intellectual property crimes worldwide.”

Florida Computer Crime Laws

Florida computer related crimes are found in Florida Statutes, Chapter 815. The two main computer crime statutes are:

  • Florida Statute 815.04 – Offenses against intellectual property—This law makes it a crime to access a computer/network
  • Florida Statute 815.06 – Offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, and electronic devices

Offenses Against Computer Users

A person commits can commit this offense if they knowingly and willingly do any of the following things without authorization:

  • Access or cause to be accessed any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device with knowledge that the access is unauthorized or the manner of use exceeds authorization;
  • Disrupt or deny or cause 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;
  • Destroy, take, injure, or damage equipment or supplies used or intended to be used in a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device;
  • Destroy, injure, or damage any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device;
  • Introduce any computer contaminant into any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device; or
  • Engage 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.

Punishment for Offenses Against Computer Users

A violation of this law is usually a third-degree felony, meaning that if you are found guilty, you would face a maximum of five (5) years in state prison. In certain circumstances, however, you could face greater penalties.

You can be found of a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 15 years in prison if the prosecutor can prove that while committing the offense you:

  1. Damaged a computer, computer equipment or supplies, a computer system, or a computer network and the damage or loss is at least $5,000;
  2. Committed the offense for the purpose of devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud or obtain property (organized fraud);
  3. Interrupted or impaired a governmental operation or public communication, transportation, or supply of water, gas, or other public service; or
  4. 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, as defined in s. 341.031.

You can be found guilty of a felony of the first degree, punishable by up to 30 years in prison if the prosecutor can provide that you did any of the following in the commission of the crime:

  1. Endangered human life; or
  2. 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.

The statute also contains a section making it a first-degree misdemeanor for a person to willfully, knowingly, and without authorization modify equipment or supplies used or intended to be used in a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device. If you are convicted of violating this section, you would face up to one (1) year in the county jail.

Offenses Against Intellectual Property

You can be found guilty of an offense against intellectual property, a third-degree felony if the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt one of the following three scenarios:

  1. A person who willfully, knowingly, and without authorization 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.
  2. A person who 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.
  3. A person who willfully, knowingly, and without authorization discloses or takes data, programs, or supporting documentation that is a trade secret as defined in s. 812.081 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.

If convicted, you could face up to five (5) years in state prison unless it was in the course of committing the crime of organized fraud. In that case, the crime would be classified as a second-degree felony and carry a 15-year maximum prison sentence.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (Federal)

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is the federal cyber-security law aimed at protecting Internet-connected computers, bank computers, and government computers.

The law is meant to deter people from illegally accessing, threatening, and damaging computer networks and also to deter the use of computers for espionage and from being corruptly used as instruments of fraud.  The law was passed to help fill in the gaps between other federal criminal laws when computer networks are specifically targeted. 

You can be charged for violating this law under seven different sections:

Subsection (a)(1) makes it illegal for a person “having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access,” to obtain confidential national security information “with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation willfully” attempts to or communicates it to someone “not entitled to receive it, or willfully” “fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it.” Violation of this section carries a maximum prison sentence of up to ten years. Repeat offenders face a maximum sentence of up to twenty years imprisonment.

Subsection (a)(2) makes it a crime if a person “intentionally accesses a computer, without authorization or exceeds authorized access, and thereby obtains” financial information of a financial institution or a card issuer, “information from a department or agency of the United States,” or “information from a protected computer.” A violation of this section is punishable by up to one-year imprisonment. If the offense is committed: for private or commercial gain, “in furtherance of a criminal or tortious act in v