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Unlawful Access to Stored Communications

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. Learn more detailed information about the Unlawful Access to Stored Communications offense below.

Have you been charged with Unlawful Access to Stored Communications? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305.

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.”

What is the law in Texas about Unlawful Access to Stored Communications?

The offense is described in Section 16.04 of the Texas Penal Code.

(b) A person commits an offense if the person obtains, alters, or prevents authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while the communication is in electronic storage by:

(1) intentionally obtaining access without authorization to a facility through which a wire or electronic communications service is provided; or

(2) intentionally exceeding an authorization for access to a facility through which a wire or electronic communications service is provided.

There are three affirmative defenses described by the statute:1

(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) Article 18.21, Code of Criminal Procedure.

How can I be charged with Unlawful Access to Stored Communications?

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.

What is the punishment for Unlawful Access to Stored Communications?

A conviction for Unlawful Access to Stored Communications is punished by default as a Class A misdemeanor,2 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.3


Legal References:

1Texas Penal Code Section 16.04(e)

2Texas Penal Code Section 16.04(c)

3Texas Penal Code Section 16.04(d)

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