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White Collar Crime

Cybercrime in Florida

Cybercrimes have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as criminals take advantage of the crisis. In response, law enforcement takes a more aggressive response when investigating and prosecuting these types of crimes.

Cybercrimes might involve theft, public exposure, or manipulation, falsification, or corruption of data. The most damaging forms of cybercrime include network intrusions and denial of service attacks. Cybercrimes can disrupt businesses that deliver goods and services.

Large-scale DDoS attacks or direct attacks against individual companies can be used to disrupt financial institutions or even the food supply chain. For instance, on November 16, 2020, Atlanta-based cold storage giant Americold disclosed that its computer network had been hacked during a “cybersecurity incident.”

During the “NotPetay” attack in 2017, the pharmaceutical company Merck reported paying out more than $300 million to recover data. Despite these types of incidents, most companies do not carry “cyber insurance” commensurate with the size of the business.

Even a small or midsized company can become the victim of a cybercrime or cyberattack by a disgruntled employee, unscrupulous competitor, extreme activist, or criminal organization. Cybercrime experts help the company develop the best plan to:

  • expeditiously investigate the way the crime occurred;
  • document the damages;
  • gather evidence;
  • report the crime to law enforcement authorities; and
  • cooperate with any criminal investigation.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are worried about ransomware targeting IT and OT networks.

Most large-scale cybercrimes are prosecuted in Federal Court. At the state level, Florida law broadly defines the term “cybercrime” to include “any fraud committed with the aid of computer programming or internet-related communications such as Web sites, e-mail, or chat rooms.”

For prosecutions in state court, crimes against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, and electronic devices are often prosecuted under Section 815.06, F.S.

Although most cyber crimes are punishable as a third degree felony in state court, the penalties can be enhanced to a second degree or first degree felony depending on the way the crime is committed, the amount of damage caused, and whether anyone is injured.

Attorney for Cyber Crimes in Tampa, FL

If you are accused of any type of computer or cyber crime listed in Section 815.06(2), F.S., then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for computer crimes at Sammis Law Firm.

Contact us to find out more about the charges pending against you, the penalties that come with a conviction, and the best ways to fight the charges for an outright dismissal. We are familiar with the way cybercrimes are investigated throughout Florida.

Our main offices are located in downtown Tampa, FL. We have a second office in New Port Richey in Pasco County, FL.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.


Types of Cybercrimes in Florida

Section 815.06(2), F.S., provides that 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 under Section 815.06(2)(a)-(f), F.S.

For cybercrimes in Florida, Section 815.06(1), F.S., defines the term “user” as a person with the authority to operate or maintain a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device.

Read more about crimes for illegally accessing communications in Florida.


Punishments for Cybercrimes

Under state law, most cybercrimes are punishable as a third degree felony under Section 815.06(3)(a), F.S. The penalties can be enhanced to a second degree felony, under Section 815.06(3)(b)1.-4., F.S., if the person commits any of the acts described in s. 815.06(2), F.S., and:

  • 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;
  • Interrupts or impairs a governmental operation or public communication, transportation, or supply of water, gas, or public service;
  • Commits the offense for the purpose of devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud or obtain property;
  • Damages a computer, computer equipment or supplies, a computer system, or a computer network and the damage or loss is at least $5,000;

A cybercrime is punishable as a first degree felony if the person commits any of the acts described in s. 815.06(2), F.S., and 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.

Section 815.06(3)(c)1.-2., F.S.


Additional Resources

Cyber Victimization by Hackers: A Criminological Analysis” by Damien Odunze, v. 1, n. 1 (2018), p. 9, Public Policy and Administration Research. (last visited on March 22, 2019).

Cyber Crime Division at FBI Headquarters – Visit the FBI website to find out more about how the Cyber Crime Division at the FBI headquarters investigates intrusions into both government and private computer networks. The specially trained cyber squads are staffed with “agents and analysts who protect against investigate computer intrusions, theft of intellectual property and personal information, child pornography and exploitation, and online fraud.” Find information on ransomware and malware that encrypts valuable digital files before demanding a ransom to release them.

FDLE on Reporting a Computer Cyber Crime – Visit the website of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to learn more about reporting internet or cyber crimes to your local sheriff’s office or police department. For internet fraud crimes, the victim can file a complaint with FDLE’s Florida Computer Crime Center. FC3 has a mission to protect Floridians by preventing future computer crimes, proactively working to identify cybercriminals, disseminating information to the public, train investigators, assisting with regional investigations, and investigating complex computer crimes at all levels. At the national level, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) works in partnership with the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.


This article was last updated on Friday, December 4, 2020.

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