It is not uncommon for a divorce client to come into my office with all kinds of printouts of emails or text messages between his or her spouse and their new lover. One of the big questions that goes through my head is “how did the client get them?” In today’s article I am going to discuss the marital tort, “Breach of Computer Security.”
Marital Tort & Crime – Breach of Computer Security
“Breach of Computer Security,” is about preventing the destruction of electronically stored data, and protecting the privacy of computer information both at home and the workplace.
A Tort is basically when one person commits a wrongful act against another person- excluding contract claims, as in a business setting.
Not only does a spouse face a possible lawsuit for this offense they may have to worry about criminal charges. Breach of computer security is a criminal offense:
- A person commits an offense if the person knowingly accesses a computer, computer network, or computer system without the effective consent of the owner.
The knowledge requirement applies to both the access and consent elements of the offense. An offense under Chapter 33 of the Penal Code is:
- a Class B misdemeanor, except
- that the offense is a state jail felony if the defendant has been previously convicted two or more times or if the system is owned by the government or a critical infrastructure facility.
A standard breach of computer security in Texas Class B Misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days jail and up to a $2,000 fine.
The second level of offense has more severe penalties, but requires that the defendant have intent to harm.
Aggregate Amount Involved
State Jail Felony
3rd degree felony
≥ $20,000 < $100,000
2nd degree felony
≥ $100,000 < $200,000
1st degree felony
Proving Breach of computer security
How can someone prove that this conduct actually caused the requisite level of harm? One can look to examples that deal with alcohol abuse, philandering, and the necessity to seek psychiatric or other forms of therapy to deal with the trauma in order to prove your cause of action.
The Following Elements must be proven that the perpetrator:
- knowingly accessed the owner’s computer, computer network, or computer system;
- 2) without the effective consent of the owner;
- 3) the password was private and protected; and
- 4) the password was not disclosed to the perpetrator
Civil Cause of Action
Chapter 143 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code creates a cause of action for a person who is injured or whose property is injured by an intentional or knowing violation of Chapter 33 of the Penal Code.
This includes both the online impersonation and breach of computer security offenses described above. The civil cause of action permits a person to recover:
- actual damages
- reasonable attorney’s fees and
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Cell Phones, Mail, Computers, Spying on your Spouse, and Privacy Rights in a Spring, Texas Divorce
- Do I Need to Change My Passwords for a Divorce in Texas?
- Legalities of spying on a child’s cell phone in Texas
- How Social Media Can Hurt You in Divorce
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
- When is, Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?
- Sex, Lies, Rock-and-roll, and Adultery in a Texas Divorce
- Can I Sue My Spouse for Mental Abuse in My Texas Divorce?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.