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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 30355
Experience:  Criminal Justice Degree, JD with Criminal Law Concentration. Worked for the DA and U.S. Attorney.
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I am in beginning of separation from my second wife. My wife

Customer Question

I am in beginning of separation for divorce from my second wife. My wife is being very vindictive and is black mailing me with the following. I want to know if what she is saying holds any validity.
During divorce from my first wife, I got information from her email and several other sites (Facebook, dating web site). I did not use any information from this during our divorce because I found out it was not legal. I told my ex-wife that I did this after our divorce. She was upset but did not push the issue such that we could raise our kids with no conflict.
My current wife found copies of the email on a flash drive and is now threatening to use this information against me. She is threatening to contact originators of emails and/or messages to bring suit against me. Since the accounts were owned by my first wife and she knows what happened, does my current wife have a case? This happened in 2009 / early 2010. What is statute of limitations?
She is stating I could receive civil penalties and jail time. Information was never used to hurt anyone and owner of accounts will not pursue legal action. Does my second wife's threats hold any validity? She is using information to obtain what she wants in divorce.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My second wife states she has discussed this with her attorney and this information can be used against me.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.


I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

South Carolina actually does not have criminal statutes of limitation for most offenses. The computer crimes statute does not list a specific statute of limitations. S.C. Code of Laws, Section 16-16-10. So, it is theoretically possible for your wife to tell police that you hacked your ex-wife's email account or social media accounts during your first divorce. However, if you were able to get the information because your first wife had given you the password ***** hadn't changed it, then she technically gave you permission. It's not likely that they would bring charges on a misdemeanor committed 5-6 years ago when the person complaining is not the victim. Also note that jail time for something like this would be extremely unlikely unless you'd used the emails to gain money you wouldn't otherwise have gotten or you had an extensive criminal record. Any civil penalties would be payable to your former wife, since she is the one you trespassed against, and the statute of limitations for that is three years. S.C. Code of Laws, Section 15-3-530. The person who would have a right to sue is your first wife, not whoever sent the emails (but, again, it's too late).

In the divorce, I can't imagine how that information is going to be relevant to anything, so if your current wife tries to introduce them, you can object. That's the first hurdle - how is this information relevant and what bearing does it have on the current proceeding? Whether or not you accessed your former wife's email has nothing to do with THIS marriage.

Also, extortion is a felony, and what your wife is doing is considered extortion. It is illegal to threaten to accuse someone of committing a crime unless they give you money. S.C. Code of Laws, Section 16-17-640.

One option here is to hire another lawyer who can send her a "cease and desist" letter telling her that she needs to back off immediately. As long as she thinks she can scare or berate you into doing what she wants, she'll keep trying. Having a lawyer might help. For one thing, you can require that all communication go through your lawyer and insist that she stop contacting you.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks - Let me make sure I understand your response. The only person who can bring a suit is my first wife and not email / message originators. Also, no monetary gain was made from information and thus a civil suit would be hard to pursue because of no financial gains. Is this correct?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My wife states she has discussed this with her attorney and what she is pursuing in not black mail / extortion.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Of course she states that. Why would she admit to you that she's blackmailing you? NEVER take your legal advice from the person who's trying to take advantage of you. If you click the link I gave you, it very clearly states that accusing someone of committing a crime, or threatening to do so, unless they give you money is the crime of blackmail.

A civil suit for trespass can include punitive damages even if there was no financial gain. But the statute of limitations for a civil suit has expired, and the only person who could have sued you was your first wife.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is the statute of limitations from date of action OR from finding of action (i.e. 2 years post finding of allegation).
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
It would run from when your ex-wife found out that you were in her email. And again, she can't have given you her password, because that's consent and then you couldn't have been trespassing.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My first wife did not give me the passwords. Her account was hacked. However, she will not press charges. So again, the only person who could press charges is originator of email / messages. Does case hold water? Sorry for being long winded but I am very upset and scared. This could have reprecussions on my employment / financial well being.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
The person who sent the messages can't sue you. They have no say whatsoever in what happens to an email after it's sent. Only your ex-wife's email was hacked. For anyone else to file a civil lawsuit, you'd have to have hacked THEIR email.
Anyone can file a police report for criminal charges, but I sincerely ***** ***** would be interested in a 6 year old misdemeanor where the victim does not want to prosecute. They have violent felonies to investigate.