Have Legal Questions? Ask a Lawyer Now.
I feel compelled to give you the full story so that I know where I stand legally.
On or about the last of July or the beginning of August 2012 this woman I was involved
with in PA. I live in Maryland, came to me to admit she had stayed up all night
reading my emails from the past.... approx. 6 hours reading personal messages, financial records etc,
that she had access to, saying I left my email window open on her computer in her home.
I did not remember accessing my email at her home but was more concerned about the
info she had read etc. She offered to give me her password XXXXX her 2 email accts and facebook .
The next day I did just that only to realize she had deleted everything of any consequence.
I asked her about this, and she said she always deleted everything. Only to find out when
questioning her a month or so later, she admitted telling her daughter about this and is was then
she deleted all her emails, but saying there was nothing there to read. I am thinking , right...
She did however leave one personal email behind, that I copied and pasted for my records for
future reference if needed. The next few months she changed dramatically, with constant
criticism, many initiated arguments by her, and finally the first of Jan. we ended the relationship.
And nasty emails on both sides flew back and forth. When at that time I brought this email
hacking thing up again, which she said she did nothing wrong. I then proceeded out of anger
sent an email to her 2 daughters... the left behind email that was quite revealing but included
only the text of the email but no names or email addresses. After sending that email I
immediately apologized to both daughters in less than a few hours because it was wrong to do.
After that we did not talk for a month and slowly she very gradually made contact , within a
few days she wanted to meet and talk, which surprised me, and I was very suspicious, and had
my radar up. After 10 days , seeing her 4 times, things about her had changed. We then
decided to end the relationship, however at the very end , I brought up this email situation
again, and suddenly she got extremely angry, cursing like a sailor, something she had never
I then started to realize her return was to smooth things over probably worrying about this
email issue, My assumption, not factual. A few nasty emails followed back and forth, then
suddenly I rec'd an email from her saying the following. "it over, do not contact me again"...
I was assuming at that time she had talked to an attorney. That happened on 3/19/2013..have
not heard anything since.
That is the basic story, now I need to know where I stand legally, and what , if anything can
If I indeed left my email open, can she legally read my emails?
What you are saying, and I have been aware of what happened, is that she probably schemed and set me up?
The emails she accessed were past sent messages, as she described from several different people. Spending 6 hours looking at my past sent messages is NOT looking at one of them, however I did not leave or open any of those past messages therefore that is not the issue, she had to access these past emails.
In addition, I have no idea what other info she accessed, and or copied.
In regards XXXXX XXXXX sending of copy to her daughter were during the period of the first week of Jan., 2013 , she then made contact on 1/28 and then wanting to meet and talk and met 3 others times after. Does that negate the previous action I made regarding the email to the daughters?
I understand completely. What is the penalty for criminal harassment? What is the typical penalty for "invasion of privacy" in the email situation?
It is obvious that everything that happened was due to her originally accessing my email illegally.
I believe this is not an usual situation, what usually happens in this scenario?
Which is this? Hacking or "invasion of privacy" I do not know the law.
We live in 2 different states, how does that work legally? Do I have any legal options that will not make it any worse that what it appears that is may be? It appears if I do nothing , she will hope this goes away, wrong ?
What in "theory" would be the solution in this situation?
Several emails I sent her at the end of Feb. and first of March , I ask for a simple apology, but have never rec'd an apology ever even in the beginning when this first happened.
My question is which is this ? If my email window left open, is this hacking?
Thank you for your information, it has been extremely helpful and much appreciated. I now can make the best decision possible I believe in doing the right thing hopefully.
Given your thoughts etc, what is the worst that could happen to her if I sought email hacking charges against her. And on the other hand , what is the worst that could happen to me with regards XXXXX XXXXX other issues?
You were a prosecutor in Pa, correct? In the state of Pa. if I wanted to file a complaint on the mail hacking, what is the process, and what proof do I need to show probable cause? I have all the ip addresses from Microsoft except there were none during the time she accessed my email acct. 34 consecutive days missing? I was told by several attorneys I would have to sue her in order to get a subpoena to submit to Microsoft to acquire those ip addresses that would prove that she actually did access my email acct. I then would have to pay a large legal fee to do so.
No, but I am familiar with PA law.
There are three ways to instigate criminal charges. One is by filing a police report where the police investigate and file charges themselves. One is by going to the prosecutor's office to see if they will file charges based on the information you have. The third way is by filing a private criminal complaint in District Court for the county where the crime occurred. The court will have the forms you need to use. Because the crime you want to charge is a fairly major offense, the prosecutor's office will have to sign off on it for charges to be filed. They can approve it or deny it or hold it for investigation to see if they want to sign off on it in the future.
Basically you need evidence to show that it is more probable than not that she committed a crime. Unfortunately, the only real way to show that is through IP addresses in a case like this. There has to be some active case for you to get a subpoena, but as I've said, law enforcement can obtain investigation subpoenas without there being an active case.
The only evidence I have is her telling me that did this deed. And the ip log showing during the time she said she accessed my email acct. shows clearly something was wrong with the missing ip addresses. This the reason attorneys have told me the authorities wouldn't investigate unless I had those actual ip addresses to show proof. It is like the "chicken and the egg" scenario.
Therefore, they said I would have to file a suit in order to be able to subpoena Microsoft.
I am 100% sure she did what she said, since she told me information about the emails she could only know by reading them. Therefore, by obtaining the ip addresses will show proof she did access them from her computer , the days , times and amount of time looking at the emails. As she stated she stayed up during the night for 6 plus hours reading them.
I understand, and appreciate your patience with me in this regard. I am an insurance appraiser / inspector and in my work detail is vital.
I have one last question, which will help me . I am sure she has attorney by now. She has been quiet (so to speak) in this situation what is her attorney probably telling her to do or not do at this point and time. I know you can not speak for another attorney, but why is she quiet?
I see you didn't actually answer my question what her attorney is probably telling her, but I can understand an attorney's ethics in this regard.
You have been extremely helpful with my problem, and gives more food for thought before considering all possible courses of action.
I did just add a tip for you. Thank you.
I got it and I appreciate it, thanks.
I would hazard a guess that an attorney would tell her something similar...that if she has unclean hands as well then going after you would likely just provoke some sort of retaliatory action. Of course, that depends on whether she has even gotten an attorney and if she has been honest with him about her actions as well.
Good luck...I'm sorry that you are in such an unfortunate situation and I hope you are able to come to some kind of resolution.
Just a curious question about you? What is your past experience in criminal law? What states have you practiced?
Why are you no longer practicing law? If in the future I have anyone that needs legal help, I will certainly recommend coming here to write to you. You have supplied me with more information than anyone else. Thanks for your honesty.
If I decide to pursue this case in Civil court, can I still pursue it criminally afterthe civil case is concluded? Also, it seems attorneys do not want to take this case, saying there has been nodamage or can prove damage by reading the emails. Do I have to show damagebefore showing cause in order to get a subpoena for Microsoft to provide the IPaddresses during the time in question? What would be (cause) enough for a judgeto issue a subpoena for Microsoft?
A civil case and a criminal case are not mutually exclusive and are not required to proceed in any particular order. However, if you proceed with a civil case and lose, the prosecutor's office will not likely pick it up as a criminal case because the burden in a civil case is far less than in criminal, and if you could not meet the lesser burden of a civil case, then a prosecutor will not attempt to prove it as a criminal case unless additional evidence is found.
You can only get a subpoena in an active case. To start a case, you have to submit a pleading that establishes every element of the claim, one of which is damages. You don't have to submit proof of damages but you at least have to aver in the pleading that there are damages in order for the complaint to be sufficient. All that is really necessary to obtain a subpoena is that it be seeking information relevant to the case. Once it is issued, the burden is on the party receiving the subpoena to argue that it is overly broad or unduly burdensome or requests information that is privileged.
What constitutes damages in my particular case. Nothing has happened as of yet where they knowledge she gained was damaging except the amount time/money I have already spent on this process. I need to file a suit in order for Microsoft to provide the ip addresses from my email acct, that are missing , 34 days of none showing. The rest of the year there are ip addresses on the log I rec'd from them
It appears to me at this point a civil case then would be futile, and the only course of action is to file a complaint with the Prosecutor in the area in which she lives and take my chances on her retribution and be ready to take the consequences.
I understand perfectly what you are saying. To avoid expense, time and effort my best course to file a complaint and let the marbles fall where they may (so to speak) knowing full well, I may also have to pay a price.
This is easily proved by the authorities, as I already know the truth as she admitted it. If they do charge her, will she automatically be convicted with proof? Will she probably receive a felony conviction knowing w/o a record she probably will get probation? at best....or can they charge her
with proof and not be convicted at all?
Proving she is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is a absolute in this case. But if found guilty she receives a felony automatically? Even though she gets a sentence of probation?
With emails admitting guilt and the ip addresses to match her story is enough to show proof is it not? I do believe however knowing this person she will confess of what she did, then what?
I understand you can not predict an outcome, just trying to cover all the bases before making a decision on what to do that the solution.
I am at a point where I do not want get into trouble myself over this situation. But at the same time, all was caused and resulted by the original crime when this person hacked my email acct. In the last 2 months my health has become an issue with losing over 15 pounds, sleeping very little etc. I really, I guess don't have any more legal questions, I just don't know what the right thing to do is.
Because of the stress, loss of weight over this situation, I feel that I should just go to the Prosecutor and just tell the entire story and let justice take it's course, even though I will be liable for my own actions. Health wise etc., My entire life is consumed 24/7 in my thoughts about this situation and just need to do something. Do you understand this?
How do you suggest I do this, from your experience as a Prosecutor and how will it typically be received?
How do I go about doing this?
I have had something new that has come up with my unauthorized access to my email acct. There were 3 people that this lady mentioned to me of emails she read that were sent messages by me, but when an email sent from my acct, the original email from the sender is automatically attached.
I have recently talked to all 3 of these people, all of which are a little upset that this lady read their emails that were sent to me, and they wanted to know if that have any legal options, since they have illegally ready their emails to me, , especially when some of them were very sensitive information, concerning money, marriage, taxes info etc.
Your legal thoughts?
One of the person's that she read their emails wants to turn her in to the authorities, can she do that? and sue in civil court. Does this person have a case or just wasting her money w/o damage being caused.
They wanted to report the hacking of my acct. to the authorities, they can't do that, right? I can only do that, correct?
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).