The Unlawful Access to Stored Communications crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you accessed, altered or prevented authorized access to stored electronic communications, unless you have proper authorization to do so.
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Unlawful Access to Stored Communications is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 4 “Inchoate Offenses,” Chapter 16 “Criminal Instruments, Interception of Wire or Oral Communication, and Installation of Tracking Device.”
Learn more detailed information about the Unlawful Access to Stored Communications offense below.
The current Texas law defines the offense of Unlawful Access to Stored Communications in Penal Code Section §16.04 as follows:
(a) In this section:
(1) “Electronic communication,” “user,” and “wire communication” have the meanings assigned by Article 18A.001, Code of Criminal Procedure.
(2) “Electronic storage” has the meaning assigned by Article 18B.001, Code of Criminal Procedure.
There are three affirmative defenses described by the statute:
(e) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (b) that the conduct was authorized by:
(1) the provider of the wire or electronic communications service;
(2) the user of the wire or electronic communications service;
(3) the addressee or intended recipient of the wire or electronic communication; or
(4) Chapter 18B, Code of Criminal Procedure.
You can be charged with Unlawful Access to Stored Communications if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 16.04 as described in the section above have been met.
A conviction for Unlawful Access to Stored Communications is punished by default as a Class A misdemeanor, with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year. However, if committed to obtain a benefit or to harm another, an offense is a state jail felony.