Skip to main content

Is it illegal to hack into someones personal email account?

Sylmar, CA |

I did a very stupid thing and got involved with a married man. His wife found out and, at least makes it seem, like she hacked into my or his email account because she claims to have pics of us and is now blackmailing me. If she indeed hack in, is that illegal?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 4


Hacking into someone else's email is often illegal, depending on how it's done. But since you don't even know if she's gotten into your email or his, and she may not have hacked into his, she may just have opened his computer and looked at the emails, I'd suggest you focus on the blackmail. Blackmail is illegal.

The question is what is the best thing to do about it? Is she asking for money? or? No, don't tell us here, best to talk to either local law enforcement or an attorney. But I think the blackmail is the bigger issue because you don't even know if she's gotten into your email account. And I assume you've changed accounts, and password protected your computer and home wifi.

You don't tug on Superman's cape; you don't spit into the wind; you don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger; And you don't get legal advice from a free Q&A page on the Internet. The above is a general statement of the law or just my opinion. I am not saying whether it applies to your situation or not because I don't know the details and you’ve not hired me as your attorney.


A break in to a computer or account is illegal, but as was pointed out, you may not be sure this was how his wife found out or found materials. You would need a computer or network technician, but if the intrusion happened on their household computer, you do not have access.

Now, the next step, you do not know if she has any pictures. Even so, the threat of blackmail, with or without pictures, is a crime. That can be reported to the police.

I assume you are no longer in touch with either of them, correct?

Actual hacking is very difficult. More likely, if there was a break-in it was through knowing a password. If they both own the computer, then that is an issue, yes? There are levels and proofs of break-in, plus you do not know if she has anything. WHAT is she demanding?

We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.



He accidentally did not sign out of his email and itouch ipod and she came across it. she has emailed me and called me stating that she has pictures and is threatening me with coming down to my place of work and showing them to my boss and also posting them up on Facebook for my family to see unless I quit my job. Me and him work at the same place.

Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson


I think, therefore, you are at the poiint where you need to contact the police. An attorney could also discuss a restraining order with you. The problem is, in part, that you do not know what she actually has.


Most definitely. 18 U.S.C. Sect. 1030 prohibits the unauthorized access to a "computer". An email account will qualify. Section 1030 makes it a crime, but also provides for a civil remedy if the damage done by the intrusion is more than $5,000.


Yes, it is illegal. It can be expensive to pursue, especially since you don't necessarily have proof that she hacked your account. For instance, perhaps the man provided the pictures voluntarily out of guilt.

Saying she is "blackmailing" you does not really provide enough information. Blackmailing you by doing what? It would seem to me that she has more to lose than you do here. If you feel your assets are at risk from this action, you should consult an attorney immediately.

The author is a Maryland attorney; however no answer given on Avvo is intended as legal advice or intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Civil rights topics

Recommended articles about Civil rights

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer