Lawton attorney ponders ripple effects of Michigan email hacking - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Lawton attorney ponders ripple effects of Michigan email hacking case

LAWTON, Okla. - The case of a Michigan man who is in legal trouble for going through his wife's e-mails could have far-reaching implications for couples everywhere.

Leon Walker could face prison time if he is convicted of felony computer abuse.  He and his wife were going through a divorce, and he says he checked her email because he suspected she was having an affair.

The charge of felony computer abuse is normally reserved for hackers who commit credit card crimes.  But one Lawton attorney says the outcome of this case could set a precedent for future privacy cases.

"I think that's ridiculous.  They're married.  She was in the wrong.  She cheated on him.  They took a vow," said one local resident.

"I don't think he has a right to be in her e-mail," said another.

Lawton Attorney Scott Ray says it all depends on the state and the prosecutors.  He says Oklahoma's law is clear.

"If you willfully and without authorization access someone else's computer, even if it's for a good reason, it's still a crime," said Ray.

Ray says the outcome of the Michigan case could have a ripple effect that goes beyond married couples.

"What if a child had an email and a parent was wanting to check because they thought he was doing drugs or something?" asked Ray.

One of Ray's biggest concerns is the fact that the crime the Michigan man is charged with is a felony, and a felony conviction has long-lasting implications, after the sentence is served.  

"Which affect a number of things in a persons life, employment, to other issues, Constitutional rights you might have that might be lost with a felony conviction over something that may be based upon good intentions, but a technical violation of the law."

Ray says other legal questions that both prosecutors and defense attorneys will consider include whether the couple created the email address together, whether it was his computer he accessed the email on, and whether she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

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