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Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  30 years legal experience
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Last month, prior to getting married a second time, I suspect

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Last month, prior to getting married a second time, I suspect my ex-husband illegally accessed my email account. Unfortunately, my son had discovered my ebay password (I wasn't aware of it), and shared that info w/ his Dad. My email account had the same password. My email account has been active for 10 years- thousands of legal emails, financial and personal info within this account. Knew he had illegally done it- many examples of him knowing info he had no ability to know about previously. He sent me an email, blackmailing me: said I have lots of $$$ and he wants to modify existing child support order. He also accused me of stealing from our children's savings account to pay for my personal expenses. To complicate matters, my husband's ex-wife commiserates with my ex-husband...She also sent emails that clearly indicate she had accessed info from my email account (whether through her computer or in conversation with my ex). My ex works in IT and could very well have downloaded the contents of the entire email account- very frightening...and could be used for further harassment. He flatly denied it, even stating he was going to file a lawsuit against me, and blamed the kids for accessing the ebay account (no mention of the email account on his part). I contacted the email provider...said I need a subpoena to receive IP addresses from requested time frame. History of Protective Order against my ex, and his history of hacking into my financial accounts, and personal effects for years. Husband's ex also has history of stalking, contacting several of his friends in an attempt to receive info and support. Both ex's are addicts, to make matters more difficult. Attorney said he'd look into it- in my state, it's a Misdemeanor to illegally access another person's email account. What should I do now?

Good morning,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. In order to give you a clear and concise answer, I will need some additional information about the circumstances, please.

1. Asking what you "should do now"---while it is a natural question for a person who overwhelmed with a situation-----is unfortunately a bit too broad for me to have any idea where to begin. You have brought up issues in Federal criminal law, state criminal law, family law and civil privacy law. While I am experienced in all these areas of law, would you please be a bit more specific as to what you would like to know?


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I want to legally address the illegal hacking. Specifically, with the info I presently have, with no IP address history (to prove that my ex and/or my husband's ex illegally accessed my email account), what would a person do to start the ball rolling to begin the legal process: Get a lawyer to subpoena Yahoo first? or File a lawsuit (without the proof) against my ex and my husband's ex? I do not know what to do first, but I cannot take the harassment any longer. If I do not address this illegal activity, then anything within my email account could and will be sued against me, should he/she pursue Family law or criminal litigation. I have to add that my husband's ex also perjured herself in trying to get a Peace Order against me...then, threatened to access my children's confidential school records. Her Peace Order was denied, and my lawyer guided me in having this woman reprimanded as an employee within our county school system. this is a deviant pattern of behavior that has persisted for over 4 years.

Good morning,

Thank you for the clarification. That is very helpful.

First of all, with no real evidence of any crime yet, the police won't be able or willing to help you. Your ex could simple say that the kids did it, or that he has always known that you have money. The simple fact is that the fact that you may have millions does not affect child support. Child support is based on your income, and that of the children's father---not on your respective balance sheets.

It is possible to get a subpoena for IP address history, however in order for a court to issue such as subpoena, there must be an active lawsuit on file and you must show that your request has some legal basis, and is calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

Potential issues that you might run into are multiple users of the same IP address, even with multiple computers and other devices capable of accessing the internet---perhaps through a common wireless router.

Perhaps the most likely causes of action to file against your ex and your husband's ex are for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Invasion of Privacy. These are both intentional tort actions with the possibility of collecting not only damages to compensate you for your out of pocket expenses, but also your emotional pain and suffering as well as money damages (punitive/exemplary damages) to punish the wrongdoers.

If you can show that your ex accessed your private email account, it will not be a defense that your son gave him the password XXXXX another account that he was able to use to hack your email account. He still violated the criminal laws by doing so---both state and federal.

Here is a federal law covering this sort of wiretapping behavior, and is potentially a felony:

18 USC §2511 prohibits the interception of oral, wire, or electronic communications. The statute expressly states that any person who "intentionally" intercepts, endeavors to intercept, procures another person to intercept; or uses, endeavors to use, or procures another person to use a mechanic device to intercept any wire, oral, or electronic communication commits a punishable crime. When a device is used to intercept the electronic or wire communication, that device can be affixed to, or transmit a signal through a wire, cable, or other like connection. Also, when a device is used for the interception of the electronic communications, the person's conduct is also punishable if that person knows or has reason to know that the device has been mailed or transported in interstate foreign commerce. This statutory section sanctions the eavesdropping conduct even if "takes place on the premises of any business or other commercial establishment the operations of which affect interstate or foreign commerce; or obtains or is for the purpose of obtaining information relating to the operations of any business or other commercial establishment the operations of which affect interstate or foreign commerce." It is also a crime to "intentionally" disclosing, or intending to disclose, the intercepting communications to any other person; this is particularly applicable to spouses that intent to use the eavesdropped e-mails in family courts. This crime carries fines or imprisonment for up to five years. In certain circumstances, usually involving more serious violations, the person may be civilly sued by the Federal Government.

As soon as you have gathered the evidence of his illegal behavior that will support your civil suit, the same proof can be used by the local state prosecutor to file criminal charges.

Please keep in mind that, even though you have already paid your deposit money over to JustAnswer, until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be paid for having assisted you with your questions.

If you have additional questions, you may of course reply back to me and I will be happy to continue to assist you further until your questions have been answered to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in your future.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, Doug. I have a couple questions in response to the info you provided. If I pursued the lawsuit, both of these people have no money for damages; however, in choosing to ignore a criminal offense, I would open myself up to further harassment, possible identity theft, and malicious use of legal system if they choose to litigate against my husband and me (with the info they gathered from my personal email account). My lawyer charges over $300 per hour, so it would be a costly endeavor. To not pursue this illegal activity could increase the likelihood of the harassment escalating even more, but pursuing it could cost me a lot of money that might not be reimbursed. Since I confronted my ex about the hacking, I received the blackmail email & my husband received an email from his ex referring to a cottage we rented on our honeymoon weekend with our kids. This is a tough decision, given that kids are involved, and they use the kids to torment us by sharing their false accusations with's a real quagmire with two sick people involved who exhibit a relentless pursuit to harass and intimidate us.

Secondly, if pursued, would our computers be part of evidence, and my entire email account be open for all attorneys involved? Thanks for your advice.

Good morning,

As your suit would only allege that your ex hacked your accounts, your computers at home/office would not be relevant to discovery if your ex has not had access to the. No one could reasonably find proof that your ex hacked your account by looking at your emails.

You would however, almost certainly be required to provide copies of all communications on your computers to or from all named defendants for several years into the past. That would potentially be relevant---but as those same emails are part of your evidence of the infliction of emotional distress, they would become evidence anyway.

You would have to get a limiting order regarding access to information taken from your account by your husband if you are able to trace the hacking back to him and your forensic computer expert finds that he downloaded any or all of your personal information to one of his devices.

You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

Thank you for your kind words. They are appreciated. Please keep in mind that even though you have already paid your deposit money over to JustAnswer, until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be paid for having assisted you with your questions.

Thanks again.

Have a great week,


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks, Doug. I have one more question. Part of the Consent Order (Financial/child support) states that we must inform the other when our income increases...My issue right now is informing him of this fact while also pursuing a criminal case. He can and will use the financial info within my email account to substantiate his continued correspondence re: my assets and changing income if we move forward with either mediation or family law/circuit court modification hearing/petition. Like I said, not doing anything will surely result in him using my emails and the financial info contained within them to beat me over the head...Should I pursue the criminal case first? or inform him of the change in income (which just happened yesterday) first?

Good morning,

Your income and your assets are two different and separate things as regards XXXXX XXXXX Ultimately it is your income that determines whether a modification of support is justified---and that is only your income, not your husbands.

Your ex would be crazy to be so bold as to use stolen information that was not provided by you in discovery, against you in a support hearing---that could be used as circumstantial evidence that he wire-tapped you.

You must inform him of the change in income within a reasonable period of time. If your raise was effective yesterday, you actually haven't been paid a higher income yet, and you have a reasonable amount of time to notify him---generally 30 days is considered reasonable enough.

Your civil suit, seeking evidence of criminal wrongdoing, and damages for the privacy invasion and emotional trauma will take a heck of a lot longer than 30 days. However, you can do both at the same time.

As part of this deals with issues your attorney is handling for you, be sure to discuss your strategy with her/him, as they need to be in control over the disclosure of all financial information related to your support matter.

You may reply back to me again if you have additional questions, and I will continue to assist you.

I wish you the best in your future,


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