Florida Computer & Internet Crime Lawyer
With the rise of social media and mobile devices, the ability of computer and Internet technology to communicate and connect with individuals has grown like never before. This technology has also given rise to a new class of criminal offenses involving use of the computer and Internet, as well as a powerful tool for law enforcement to investigate, arrest and prosecute individuals for suspected crime. The Law Offices of Gilbert A. Schaffnit in Gainesville has been on the leading edge of defending individuals throughout the state of Florida who have been accused of sex offenses and other crimes involving the use of a computer or the Internet as an essential element of the crime. Below is a look at some of the most common computer and Internet crimes prosecuted in Florida, and some of the ways a Florida computer & internet crime lawyer can help.
Cyberstalking is a form of stalking outlawed in Florida Statutes section 784.048. Cyberstalking is defined as:
- Engaging in a course of conduct to communicate, or causing to be communicated,
- Words, images, or language
- By or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication,
- Directed at a specific person,
- Causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.
Anyone who willfully, maliciously and repeatedly cyberstalks another commits the first degree misdemeanor crime of stalking, which could result in up to a year in jail if convicted. If the offense is charged as Aggravated Stalking, the crime becomes a third degree felony, and the incarceration penalty increases to up to five years in prison. Aggravated Stalking can be charged in the following circumstances:
- If the communication is accompanied by a credible threat
- If the communication occurs while a protective injunction is in place
- If the subject of the communication is a child under 16
- If the communication occurs in violation of a no-contact order
The Florida stalking law allows police to arrest someone on probable cause without a warrant. A sentence imposed on a conviction for stalking may include a restraining order which can last up to ten years. Also, any sentence imposed for stalking will run consecutively to any sentence for
sexual battery, lewdness or indecent exposure on a minor, or making certain computer pornography transmissions to a minor.
Solicitation of a Minor
Florida Statutes section 847.0135 outlaws computer pornography involving a minor, arranging to meet a minor online and traveling to meet the minor, publishing child pornography, and other sex offenses involving a minor through the use of a computer or the Internet. The law considers it a third degree felony to transmit via computer any descriptive information of a child to encourage or solicit sexual conduct with a minor.
Solicitation of Prostitution
The ability to solicit a prostitute over the Internet is ubiquitous, given the prevalence of escort listings and sites such as Craigslist, backpage.com and countless others. Florida law outlaws solicitation of another to commit prostitution, as well as simply making an appointment for prostitution, which is known in the criminal courts as assignation. A person convicted of solicitation will be sentenced to 100 hours of community service, required to attend a prostitution and human trafficking awareness course, screened for sexually transmitted diseases, and ordered to pay a $5,000 civil fine. In addition, the crime of solicitation is a first degree misdemeanor carrying the possibility of a year in jail on a first offense. A second offense of solicitation is charged as a third degree felony and carries a mandatory ten day jail sentence, with a possibility of as much as five years in prison.
A defense to the charge of soliciting a prostitute over the Internet may be that the solicitation was for consensual sex only and was not actually intended to involve the exchange of money. Also, many escort listings are actually undercover sting operations conducted by law enforcement, and whether police activity crosses the line into entrapment is a matter that should be carefully looked into in every case.
Get Help from a Knowledgeable and Experienced Florida Computer & Internet Criminal Defense Lawyer
Laws prohibiting certain conduct involving computers and Internet technology can be complex and highly technical. Be sure to hire a Florida computer and internet crimes lawyer with years of experience and knowledge in this area. In Florida, call the Law Offices of Gilbert A. Schaffnit in Gainesville at 352-505-1799 for a free initial telephone consultation.