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Thoreau (T-USA)
Thoreau (T-USA), Lawyer
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My ex-fiance is saying that I hacked his website and ruined

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My ex-fiance is saying that I 'hacked' his website and ruined it. He says they traced it to my house & the computer he loaned me. He says it is a felony and I will serve 2 yrs in jail plus 250,000 fine. What actually happened is I was deleting things I had posted on his website, as well as my account, and when in the administrative part, I accidentally hit some wrong buttons which evidently did cause problems. I know he downloads the site every night for protection and his claims of the site being ruined are to intimidate me, possibly to allow me to get into legal problems. What is the actual legal info re: situation like this? BTW I am computer illiterate and he is experienced hacker. I have an email from yr ago I gave to my server where he threatened to hack & destroy my site.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Thoreau (T-USA) replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question and thank you for requesting me.
I'm sorry to hear about what's going on. It is a crime to access a computer system without authorization. If you can show that you had authorization to access the system, that could provide a defense if you are charged with a crime. However, even if an individual is accessing a computer to delete something that relates to him or her, he or she must have authorization to do so. If you actually did any damage to the site, you could also be civilly liable for the value of the damage, but his regular backups may mitigate the amount for which you would be liable if he can readily restore it to its former state. This is both a state and federal issue. The federal statute on point is 18 USC 1030(2)(C). "Whoever . . . intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access, and thereby obtains . . . information from any protected computer..." The statute is located here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030. If you are charged, there may be defenses (for instance, if you could show that you had authorization). Your next step should be to immediately retain an attorney to help you address the issue of the breakup, resolve any outstanding issues, etc. Your attorney can help you to avoid making any damaging statements in relation to these accusations (so as to avoid providing additional evidence of any possible crime) and your attorney can help you negotiate to attempt to resolve the matter amicably.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I HAVE EMAIL WHERE HE TELLS ME TO COPY/PASTE ANY OF MY POSTS ON HIS WEBSITE AND GET THEM QUICKLY OFF HIS SITE THAT I MIGHT WISH TO KEEP BECAUSE HE IS GOING TO DELETE THEM.
I HAD ACCOUNT ON THE WEBSITE WITH PASSWORD XXXXX ( I WAS A GLOBAL MODERATOR - USED TO BE AN ADMINISTRATOR ON THE SITE TIL WE ARGUED)
HE ALSO SAID IN DIFFERENT MESSAGE FOR ME TO DELETE THE POSTS AS I COPY/PASTED THEM ONTO MY SITE.
Expert:  Thoreau (T-USA) replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the message.
It sounds like he may have given you permission to access the site and that could work in your favor in defending against any criminal charges. The state could still potentially attempt to show that you intentionally damaged or destroyed the site. However, if you could show that it was mere error, that could provide a defense as well. So, really, you may have defenses, but you could still be charged. Therefore, you should definitely engage your attorney so that he can guide your statements and actions to try to prevent the matter from escalating further.
Thoreau (T-USA), Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 9176
Experience: Attorney
Thoreau (T-USA) and 7 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Will this hell ever be over? This guy has threatened and intimidated me for a year.

I reported him to Secret Service & FBI today for voicing threats against the president.

I am also trying to file police report via phone from NY to NC regarding his threats, harassment, and assaults upon me.
Expert:  Thoreau (T-USA) replied 2 years ago.
I understand your frustration. I'm sorry that things are going the way they are. However, please understand: you've reached the stage where you need to retain counsel. From my perspective, it seems as though, if you retain an attorney, you might be able to avoid having the matter get any farther out of hand than it already is. Your attorney can handle negotiations with him and your attorney can help you to avoid taking any damaging actions. If I were you, I would retain counsel before doing anything else. If you cannot afford an attorney, I would recommend contacting local legal clinics to inquire about free or discount assistance.
Thoreau (T-USA), Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 9176
Experience: Attorney
Thoreau (T-USA) and 7 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The website that my ex alleges I 'destroyed' was back up in less than 24 hours in exact same condition as it was prior to being allegedly 'damaged'.
I knew he downloaded it every night and it was another of his lies to intimidate and upset me.

Legally, how does the fact there was no damage done to the site except off-line a few hours effect his threats to file criminal charges against me?
As you might recall, I have 2 emails where he had given me permission, actually ordered me, to go to the site and copy/paste anything I wanted from there, delete my posts to save him time of doing it, before he banned me from the site permanently.

Also, it is a small personal site without any ads; he makes no money whatsoever off the site. So he did not incur any financial damage because site was down briefly. He is just a regular private citizen, not a 'public figure' of any note.

1) Where do I stand now legally as far as possibility of any criminal action against me?
2) I've been told these type cases are given very low priority, if even prosecuted, esp with 2 different state jurisdictions involved - is that true?
Expert:  Thoreau (T-USA) replied 2 years ago.
The lack of financial damage and the lack of any real damage (due to the backup) would decrease the strength and value of a civil suit. However, it wouldn't prevent the state from pursuing criminal charges because the action, rather than the outcome, affects whether or not the conduct was criminal.
The amount of priority given to the matter really depends on the prosecutor's offices involved. That said, as the matter is online, it's a federal issue as well (not just the states are involved). So you're really potentially looking at three affected jurisdictions and three different prosecutor's offices that could be involved. Something like that isn't going to be taken as seriously as a robbery, but it's not likely to be taken as lightly as a public intoxication offense, for instance. Your personal attorney can best help you evaluate the extent of attention the matter might receive.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

When I contacted several local attorneys, they didn't even want to take a retainer for this situation and told me if anything ever happens, such as police wanting to question me, to say nothing and give them a call.
Expert:  Thoreau (T-USA) replied 2 years ago.
I understand. At this stage, you're really looking for a family law attorney to help you with the process of working out the disputes between you and your ex. Your family law attorney will help you avoid making any potential mistakes in the criminal realm as well, while you work out the details of settling the property, resolving any other issues (such as the online matter), etc. A criminal defense attorney won't really be able to help until and unless you're contacted by the state and that's why they're opting to stay out of things until then. If the defense attorneys, based on what you told them, didn't feel that the state would pursue charges, their assessments are worth considerable weight.
Thoreau (T-USA), Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 9176
Experience: Attorney
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