Is logging into someone's email account illegal if they previously gave you their password?

Asked over 5 years ago - Chicago, IL

In March 2009, I logged into my ex-boyfriend's email account (he gave me his password when we were together & never changed it after we broke up; I didn't necessarily have permission to login to his email account that day but he also never told me to never login after our breakup) & changed his password on him (he owes me money & I wanted to encourage him to pay me). He ended up filing a police report in Massachusetts (I live in IL; he also recently moved back to IL) but they said they wouldn’t pursue the matter. I was informed by the police officer that he still has the right to press charges on me in IL if it’s against the law. Is logging into someone’s email account illegal (in the state of IL)? Can he have criminal charges pressed against me? Can he file a civil lawsuit against me?

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Erik Glen Swanson

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . I'll let a criminal attorney answer that part of it, but he certainly may be able to bring a civil lawsuit against you, depending on what, if any, damages he sustained. If the only damage was an inability to access his email for a short time, I wouldn't think a lawsuit would be justified, although there may be specific facts in his situation that would change this analysis. This doesn't mean what you did was acceptable, quite the contrary.

    Disclaimer: This answer is provided as a public service and as a general response to a general question, it is not meant, and should not be relied upon as specific legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

  2. Alan James Brinkmeier

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I would not consider a lawsuit would be justified. I agree with attorney Swanson.

    Good luck to you.

    God bless.

    NOTE: This answer is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney that practices in the subject practice discipline and with whom you have an atttorney client relationship along with all the privileges that relationship provides. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question.

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

23,806 answers this week

2,797 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

23,806 answers this week

2,797 attorneys answering