We Stand Beside You

Is it illegal to read someone’s email? 

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2022 | Criminal Defense

You’ve probably heard that it is a federal offense to open someone else’s physical mail. However, in 2022, most people get far more email messages than physical letters.

This may lead you to wonder what happens if you read through someone’s email account. Maybe it’s a co-worker who leaves their email signed in on their computer when they go home for the day. Maybe it’s a romantic partner who leaves their phone next to the bed. If you use the device to access their email and then read it, are you breaking the law?

Unauthorized access is illegal

What’s interesting about the way these laws are set up is that unauthorized access is what is prohibited. It’s not just the act of opening the email account and reading it that is illegal, but the fact that you don’t have permission to do it.

What this means is that you can’t even use a password that you know to open somebody’s email account. There have been cases where one spouse was looking through another spouse’s email when they didn’t know, and they have even faced criminal charges. 

So, even if your spouse told you the password to their phone and you could get into their account without any problems, if you do that without actually getting permission, you do you run the risk of facing legal charges. In some instances, these have led to people spending years behind bars.

What are your defense options?

You don’t want one simple mistake to define the rest of your life. If you’re facing serious charges like this, then you need to know about all the legal defense options at your disposal.