An interesting story drew a lot of attention from family law attorneys and American’s across the nation last week. A Michigan state law used against internet hackers intending to steal trade secrets and identities is now being used against a man who went through his estranged wife’s e-mails. The man now faces felony charges for computer misuse. But is this statute applicable to the man’s case?
Divorce can be a difficult time for many, causing added stress and worries. The 33-year-old man from Michigan and his wife were in the process of a divorce, and he suspected that his wife was having an affair with a former husband. His suspicions were concerning because he believed his wife was seeing her second husband who had been arrested before for beating the woman in front of her young son. The man feared for the safety of his step-son and his own child.
He explained, “I was doing what I had to do.” The man logged into his wife’s e-mail account using a shared computer in their home that they were both living in. He claims that his wife kept her passwords next to the computer, and he has no choice but to read through her e-mails. His suspicions were confirmed.
After finding evidence in the e-mails that the woman was having an affair with her second ex-husband, the man gave the e-mails to the woman’s first ex-husband. The woman’s first ex-husband was the father of the child who witnessed the beating. The man immediately filed an emergency motion to obtain custody of the child.
When the woman learned that her third husband accessed her e-mails without her permission last March, she filed charges against him. The couple’s divorce was later finalized in December.
Although many are questioning the validity of the Internet law being applied in this case, charges have not been dropped against the man. Prosecutors claim that the man broke state privacy laws.
If the Michigan man is convicted of hacking into his former wife’s e-mail account, he could be sentenced up to five years in prison. Divorce attorneys across the nation will be interested in the outcome of the Feb. 7 trial. According to an electronic privacy expert, about 45 percent of divorce cases involve spouses snooping through each other’s e-mails, Facebook and other online accounts. If the man is convicted of the crime, the court system could be opening a floodgate for similar cases.