Is it illegal to into someones email (if you know their password) and send emails to people?

Asked about 4 years ago - Brown Deer, WI

My ex girlfriend knows my email password and went into it. I am on probation and she knew this, so she emailed my probation officer pretendting to be my mom and told my PO telling him that i was selling coke and pot. He put a warrant out for my arrest and i was put in jail for 10 days. Is what she did illegal, and if so what should i do?

Attorney answers (2)

  1. John Leif Fossum

    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . First, you should change your password. It may be that Wisconsin has a crime for impersonating someone else. you should consider complaining to the police, but the bigger question might be how you spend 10 days in jail based on an email. You should consult with a criminal defense lawyer in your area about the probation violation as well. This response is for informational purposes only and is not offered as legal advice.

  2. Mitchell Paul Goldstein

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Using someone else's email violates the terms of service of many service providers. Using that email without the person's authorization can violate the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and potentially state laws as well (you would need to consult with a Wisconsin for that). More importantly, you may have a claim against the ex-girlfriend for lying to your probation officer and getting you locked up.

    I agree that you should consult with a criminal law attorney to fight the probation violation and to see if you can bring an action against her.

    One last thing - this is why you should never give out your password, make sure no one can easily guess it, and change it after you break up with a person if he/she knows it.

    [This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.]

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