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What constitutes computer crime?

In the last three or four decades, computer technology has exploded. Many Florida residents join the millions of others across the country, and the globe, who have an online life, and you may be one of them. Individuals aren't the only ones who have joined the digital age. Lawmakers and law enforcement agencies from the federal level to the local level have become involved through the enforcement of computer crimes.

Any number of issues could constitute a computer crime, and it's unreasonable to expect you to know or understand them all. You may discover that you are under investigation, or you may be charged with computer crimes, and it might help to understand what that may mean, especially since it also encompasses crimes that don't require a computer to commit such as fraud or theft.

Crimes that often require a computer to commit

The following list comprises some of the most often seen computer crimes:

  • Falsifying the source of an email
  • Accessing a computer, network or system without authorization
  • Taking information from a service provider without authorization
  • Preventing computer access or use to someone
  • Using a computer in a fraud scheme
  • Planting a virus in a computer system
  • Encrypting data as part of a crime

Most states also have laws regarding someone using, corrupting or disclosing (among other things) computer data belonging to someone else.

Crimes that can be committed with a computer

In addition to the above list, some crimes that can occur in the real world may also occur in the virtual world. For example, in recent years, cyberbullying has gained significant attention. The use of social media, email and other computer-based platforms to harass another aggressively violates the law just as it would if done in person. Some examples include sending threatening, violent or demeaning messages.

You may not think that you are threatening or otherwise abusing someone online because there is no face-to-face contact, but considering the amount of time people spend online these days, the damage can be considerable.

Seek help if you face charges for computer crimes

Computer crimes require the same attention to detail as other crimes. You may need the assistance of an attorney who is familiar with the technology or works closely with others who do. Understanding how to dissect the prosecution's case could help reveal weaknesses or violations of your rights that could result in the reduction or dismissal of your charges.

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