With all the technological advances and the proliferation of computer networks, computer-related crimes are on the rise. Computer and internet crimes such as hacking into private records or infecting systems with viruses or Trojans are felony offenses, punishable by imprisonment and hefty fines. Many people facing computer hacking charges in St. Petersburg often face additional charges, such as computer fraud, identity theft, and financial fraud.

What does the government consider computer hacking?

“Hacking is breaking into computer systems, frequently with intentions to alter or modify existing settings. When malicious in nature, these break-ins may cause damage or disruption to computer systems or networks,” explains the National Conference of State Legislatures. Schools, financial institutions, government programs, government records, business enterprises, hospitals, and private networks are all susceptible to hackers.

Hacking can involve several actions, such as:

  • Putting fraudulent records into a system
  • Gaining restricted access to a computer or network
  • Infecting a system with a virus or Trojan
  • Altering computer files without permission
  • Accessing another party’s online accounts, including email, social media, and banking
  • Stealing data and assets via computer or virtual modalities

What are the penalties for computer hacking?

Both the federal government and the State of Florida have laws in place pertaining to computer-related crimes, so a state or federal government may try these cases. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) [18 U.S.C. § 1030] and Florida Statutes §§ 815.01-815.07 & 668.801-668.805 detail computer-related crimes.

The penalties someone charged with computer-related crimes will face depend on the details of the crime, which court (which level, state or federal) hears the case, and whether there are any other charges.

In Florida, computer hacking is a third-degree felony (if the accused stole intellectual property) punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the defendant hacked a computer or computer system for the purpose of obtaining property, the state considers the crime a second-degree felony, which triples the possible prison sentence and doubles the fine.

In some cases, such as when the defendant hacks or disrupts the computer system that directly affects medical treatment or the “administration of medical care” or endangers someone’s life, the crime is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Various mitigating factors will determine at what level the defendant faces charges and what charges the defendant faces. Discuss the circumstances specific to your case with an attorney at Goldman Wetzel for a more detailed analysis of your charges.

Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in St. Petersburg at Goldman Wetzel

Securing a qualified felony defense attorney is one of your first objectives if you are facing charges related to computer hacking. We will help you explore defenses to your charges, which might include mistaken authorization and lack of intent.

Contact us today at 727-828-3900 and let us get started on your case.

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