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Richard Ansara Attorney at Law

Internet and Cyber Crimes

The internet has altered the way we communicate, the way we shop and the way we live. It’s also increasingly being connected to criminal activity.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale cyber crimes defense attorneys know these types of cases require a decisive approach from a strong defense.

Internet crimes can run the gamut, and may include:

  • Cyberstalking/ online bullying
  • Criminal harassment
  • Identify theft
  • Child pornography
  • Prostitution/ sex trafficking
  • Phishing
  • Credit card fraud
  • Sale of counterfeit goods (including software, music and video game piracy)
  • Illegal gambling/ hacking
  • Virus distribution

In the past, convictions for cyber crimes were relatively rare. That’s because these offenses were difficult to detect and the subculture of the cyberworld wasn’t well understand. Plus, it takes a great deal of time and investment for law enforcement agencies to catch up on equipment and training for ever-evolving technologies and the societal changes that go along with that.

But today, law enforcement and prosecutors are very serious when it comes to cracking down on these offenses. There have been major initiatives by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices to target sexual exploitation, cyber fraud, cyber abuse, piracy and online predators. The Florida Attorney General’s Office has a dedicated Cyber Fraud Section specifically dedicated to reviewing, investigation and enforcing laws against those who defraud consumers over the internet.

Federal and sometimes international agencies often take the reins on these investigations, but there are a number of state statutes under which internet crime cases can be prosecuted too.

When you are accused of an internet crime, it can be tempting to erase your entire hard drive or try to explain yourself to law enforcement. However, doing either of these things is almost certain to result in more severe consequences.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in defending high-profile white collar crimes, including internet crimes. We are able to quickly ascertain potential weaknesses in a prosecutor’s case, and in some instances can work proactively to convince the government to file lesser charges or perhaps dismiss them altogether.

Understanding State and Federal Cyber Crime Laws

The first step to formulating your defense is understanding the crime of which you have been charged.

Chapter 815 of Florida Statutes focuses on computer-related crimes. These include offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer hacking and electronic devices. In other words: Hacking. This could involve disrupting data systems, infecting other computers with viruses, accessing data unauthorized, engaging in illicit audio or video surveillance or stealing information. Generally, these offenses are third-degree felonies, punishable by up to five years in prison. However, offenses can be more serious if defendant’s actions resulted in substantial losses or interrupted/ impaired government action or imperiled someone else’s life.

Crimes against online predators are outlined in F.S. 847.0137, which disallows transmission of child pornography, F.S. 847.0135, which prohibits solicitation of a minor and F.S. 784.048, which outlaws cyberstalking.

Meanwhile at the federal level, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 has been amended and expanded multiple times to accommodate advancing technologies connected to criminal activity. This act essentially prohibits people from accessing or exceeding authorization of protected computer systems, such as those kept by government agencies and financial institutions.

There is also the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, which outlaws the knowing transfer or use of another person’s identity without their knowledge and with the intention of committing an unlawful act (such as theft).

There is also the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which shields people against illegal interception of communications.

Finally, there are numerous federal laws that deal specifically with internet-related sex offenses, such as obscenity, sexual abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation of children and transportation for illegal sexual activity. First-time offenses in these cases carry a minimum mandatory penalty of between 5 and 15 years.

Defense in Cyber Crime Cases

Law enforcement agencies have become increasingly emboldened with their use of “stings” targeting internet crime, particularly those involving sexual offenses against minors. They are devoting substantial resources to these cases.

The approach your defense lawyer takes is going to depend on the type of crime of which you are accused. The one fact many of these cases have in common is that more often than not, investigators started gathering evidence against you months or years or even years ago. That’s why it’s so important that as soon as you know or suspect that you may be under investigation or have been arrested, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney – and don’t speak to investigators until you do.

Our defense lawyers will develop a workable pre-trial strategy that takes into account whether search warrants were overly-broad, whether motions may be initiated to challenge government expert witnesses and whether there is an insufficiency of evidence.

There is often much at stake in these cases, so it’s imperative to contact an attorney for advice as soon as possible.

If you have been charged with a solicitation or conspiracy in South Florida, contact the Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011.

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