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Umhoefer v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

December 20, 2017

JOEL ALAN UMHOEFER, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sarasota County; Charles E. Roberts, Judge.

          Howard L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Matthew J. Salvia, Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Dawn A. Tiffin, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.

          SILBERMAN, JUDGE

         Joel Alan Umhoefer appeals his judgment and sentence for unauthorized access of a computer network or electronic device, a third-degree felony. The charge arose as a result of his online relationship with a teenage girl, M.B. We affirm his judgment and sentence and write to address the denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal.

         Umhoefer contends that the trial court should have granted his motion for judgment of acquittal because the State failed to prove that he accessed a computer network and that the access was unauthorized. Appellate review of the denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal is by the de novo standard. State v. Shearod, 992 So.2d 900, 903 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008). Section 815.06(2)(a), Florida Statutes (2014), provides as follows:

(2) A person commits an offense against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, or electronic devices if he or she willfully, knowingly, and without authorization:
(a) Accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device with knowledge that such access is unauthorized[.]

         The applicable version of section 815.03, effective October 1, 2014, defines a computer network as

a system that provides a medium for communication between one or more computer systems or electronic devices, including communication with an input or output device such as a display terminal, printer, or other electronic equipment that is connected to the computer systems or electronic devices by physical or wireless telecommunication facilities.

§ 815.03(4). " 'Access' means to approach, instruct, communicate with, store data in, retrieve data from, or otherwise make use of any resources of a computer, computer system, or computer network." § 815.03(1).

         Umhoefer developed an online relationship with M.B. beginning in November 2012 when she was fourteen. M.B. made videos for Umhoefer, and he sent her gifts, including a laptop and stuffed animals.[1] After she began a relationship with E.C., a boy her age, Umhoefer became jealous. An injunction for protection against dating violence was issued against Umhoefer in August 2014.

         The State filed the charge at issue after Umhoefer sent an email to M.B.'s mother on November 23, 2014, that attached Facebook messages between M.B. and E.C. that were sexually explicit. Umhoefer claimed that he had been monitoring M.B. and was trying to help her. He asserted that she had given him her password a ...


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