Computer hacking is the act of intentionally accessing a computer or computer network without authorization. Sometimes computer experts, often young adults, may hack into a computer system just to prove that they can. Rather than trying to cause damage or defraud, these types of hackers are often seeking notoriety by accessing complex systems. In other cases, hackers may have the more malicious intent to harm an individual’s or company’s reputation, steal money, or otherwise cause damage or defraud. Regardless of the intent, any action taken to hack a computer or network is a crime under federal law.
Florida law states that computer hacking is a third degree felony. This is the minimum charge that hackers face in Florida and includes even minor hacking incidents, such as hacking a person’s email account. If hacking is committed with the intent to defraud or steal, the perpetrator is charged with a second degree felony. A hacker may crack a person’s password or otherwise gain access to their computer or network with the intent to access online bank account information, stored credit card information, company financial information, or other personal or corporate information that could be used to defraud.
Because hacking can inflict significant damage on an individual or company and may include high financial costs, this crime is taken very seriously and prosecuted aggressively. An individual convicted of hacking may be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison and charged up to $5,000 in fines. For hacking offenses that includes an attempt to defraud or steal, the penalties are elevated to a maximum 15 year prison sentence and up to $10,000 in fines.
Clearly even a minor hacking offense carries severe penalties that could haunt you for the rest of your life. If you have been arrested for computer hacking, consider contacting a criminal attorney immediately to assist with your defense. A criminal defense lawyer will ensure that your rights under the law are protected and will fight to defend your case against an aggressive prosecution.