In what is perhaps the first case of its kind, a Michigan Court of Appeals has determined that a Rochester Hills man must face a computer hacking trial based on evidence that he was snooping in his ex-wife’s email account. The Oakland County man has been charged with “misusing a computer,” a felony charge in Michigan. The charges stem from accusations that Leon Walker accessed his wife’s email after she filed for divorce. Reports state that he believed she was cheating on him and checked her email for evidence.
If you have been charged with a computer crime or other white-collar crime it is important to talk to an experienced criminal defense law firm in Michigan. Many times overzealous prosecution can lead to criminal charges. It is important to begin an investigation immediately and fight back.
Here, Walker has been charged pursuant to Michigan’s “hacking” law, MCL 450.411s, which prohibits third parties from breaking into computers or computer programs. Under certain circumstances “hacking” may be considered a felony. In this instance, Walker faces up to 5-years in jail for reading the email. The arrest and charges sparked a national debate about computer privacy, especially between spouses.
In the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling, the three-member appellate panel wrote that Michigan’s computer hacking doesn’t provide for a spousal exception. Such a steep penalty and use of resources seems unjust. Here, Walker simply accessed his wife’s Gmail account on a shared computer. She had left her password in a book next to the computer, which he entered in an effort to determine whether she was cheating on him and exposing their child to a potentially violent situation.
Representatives of Walker state that they will appeal this ruling to the Michigan Supreme Court. Additionally, State Representative Tom McMillan has provided that he plans to draft an amendment creating an exception to the hacking law for spouses. The Court of Appeals further noted that “However, unless and until such legislation occurs, this court is left with the statute as written.”
For more information or if you have been charged with any internet or computer crime, contact an aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyer at Grabel & Associates for an immediate free consultation.