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Computer Crimes and Related Offenses

Are you or a loved one charged with a computer crime?

Advances in technology and computing have changed many aspects of society; including criminal offenses, investigations, prosecutions and their defense. Indeed, computers have not only been a tool for use in the commission of many traditional crimes ranging from drug trafficking and money laundering to tax evasion, but the prevalence of computers in modern society has shaped an entire new class of offenses that are committed only with a computer. These are generally referred to as computer crimes.

Computer crimes may also be known as, or referred to as, “cyber-crime” by the FBI, and other State and Federal law enforcement agencies.

Computer crimes may have serious lifelong consequences upon conviction. Ranging from misdemeanors (the least serious), to felonies (the most serious). Possible penalties for computer crimes may include heavy fines and imprisonment ranging from one day to as much as LIFE. In addition to time behind bars, a conviction for committing a computer crime will have permanent consequences as one’s criminal record will follow them for life and affect even many of the most basic freedoms a citizen may have. A computer crime conviction, for instance, may have employment consequences as most employers run background checks before hiring.

In addition, under Federal and Florida law, one convicted of a Felony Computer Crime may no longer possess and/or purchase a firearm and may also no longer vote as convicted felons. A computer crime conviction of any degree or level may impact an individual’s ability to keep or obtain a professional license (doctor, lawyer, teacher, law enforcement). A criminal conviction, especially a felony conviction, even though totally unrelated to the practice of any profession, may impact the ability to hold that license, and may result in a revocation. Also, a conviction for a computer crime involving child pornography, sexual exploitation, or human sex-trafficking, would require one to register as a sex offender anywhere they live in the United States. Failure to register as a sex offender is also a crime which is punishable by imprisonment.

State computer crimes are investigated and prosecuted by the local sheriff, local police departments, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol and the State’s Attorney’s Office. Federal computer crimes are investigated and prosecuted by various agencies, including the FBI, IRS, DEA, ATF, CIA, Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice.

Generally, computer crimes consist of using a computer to take or alter data, or to gain unlawful use of computers or services in the illegal transfer of funds or to alter the data or property of others. While almost any crime that can be committed without a computer can also be committed with a computer, certain crimes are more frequently seen than others. In recent years, law enforcement has been hyper vigilant about monitoring the internet for cyber-terrorism, drug trafficking, child pornography, wire fraud, computer intrusions, identity theft, human trafficking, prostitution, online sexual predators, piracy, damaging or destroying equipment or supplies that are used, or were intended to be used in a computer network, deliberately placing a virus into a computer or network owned by another, destroying, taking or damaging computer equipment that belongs to another, and accessing a computer or network of another without permission.

Attorney Paul Petruzzi has been defending those charged with computer crimes from the first existence of them in the criminal code. He has represented handfuls of clients charged with, or under investigation for, various computer related crimes.

It is important for one to hire an experienced attorney when charged with a computer crime. Attorney Paul Petruzzi’s knowledge and expertise in this field of law is a vital asset to anyone charged with these crimes.

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