Is it illegal to read a former coworkers email if they gave you their password?

UPDATED: May 22, 2009

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Is it illegal to read a former coworkers email if they gave you their password?

my coworker was laid off, i think he is going into my email remotely and tampering with it, can i press criminal charges?

Asked on May 22, 2009 under Criminal Law, North Carolina


N. K., Member, Iowa and Illinois Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

It depends if his activities (past, present, future) are defined under the North Carolina Penal Code. For example, how is he tampering with it? If he is doing something that harasses you, he could be guilty of Cyberstalking under the North Carolina Code (14-196.3). Or if he uses information in your email to commit identity fraud or steal money from you, he could be guilty of other criminal offenses as defined in the N.C. Code.

You should immediately change your password to avoid further abuses.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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