Texas Penal Code 16.04 – Unlawful Access to Stored Communications
WHAT IS UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO STORED COMMUNICATIONS IN TEXAS?
A person unlawfully gains access to stored communications by obtaining, without legal authorization, another’s historical cell site location information (CSLI), which shows the location of a cell phone dozens of times a day up to five years in the past.
WHAT IS THE UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO STORED COMMUNICATIONS LAW IN TEXAS?
Tex. Penal Code § 16.04. UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO STORED COMMUNICATIONS.
(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.
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), an offense under Subsection (b) is a Class A misdemeanor.
(d) If committed to obtain a benefit or to harm another, an offense is a state jail felony.
(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
WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO STORED COMMUNICATIONS IN TEXAS?
Unlawful access to stored communications is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail. If, however, a person unlawfully accesses another’s stored communications to obtain a benefit or to harm another, it is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to two years in a state jail facility.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO STORED COMMUNICATIONS IN TEXAS?
The punishment range for the unlawful access to stored communications charged as a Class A misdemeanor is up to a year in jail, and a maximum fine of $4,000. State jail felony unlawful access to stored communications carries a possible 180 days to two years in a state jail facility, and up to a $10,000 fine.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO STORED COMMUNICATIONS IN TEXAS?
As an alternative to confinement, a person may be eligible for probation after a conviction, or deferred adjudication without a conviction. The maximum period of community supervision is two years for a Class A misdemeanor, and between two and five years for a state jail felony.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO STORED COMMUNICATIONS IN TEXAS?
The unlawful access to stored communications statute creates affirmative defenses that, if successfully proved, will lead to an acquittal. One’s access to stored communications is lawful if it was authorized by:
- the provider of the wire or electronic communications service;
- the user of the wire or electronic communications service;
- the addressee or intended recipient of the wire or electronic communication; or
- Chapter 18B of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO STORED COMMUNICATIONS IN TEXAS?
The limitation period for unlawful access to stored communications categorized as a Class A misdemeanor is two years. If it is a state jail felony, the limitation period is three years.
UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO STORED COMMUNICATIONS IN TEXAS
People have a reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment in their historical cell site location information. While cell phone carriers may monitor and store this data for finding weak spots in their network, or applying roaming charges, neither the government nor any other individual may access the precise, time-stamped location and individual identifying information without prior legal authorization for a legitimate purpose.
TEXAS UNLAWFUL ACCESS TO STORED COMMUNICATIONS COURT CASES
The case law regarding unlawful access to stored communications in Texas shows the recognition of citizens’ privacy interests. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his CSLI.
- In Holder v. State, the defendant was convicted of capital murder, and the police illegally obtained his CSLI for 23 days surrounding the murder. He was convicted, which was ultimately affirmed, but not without the determination that the CSLI should not have been admitted into evidence at trial. Absent exigent circumstances or some other recognized law enforcement need, police need a warrant based on probable cause to access seven or more days of CSLI information.Holder v. State, 595 S.W.3d 691 (Tex. Crim. App. 2020).
Glowing Client Reviews
Trey is the man! I hired him because I had overheard a county court judge mentioning how awesome of an attorney he is, so if an endorsement from a judge won’t convince you then I’m not sure what will. I sure do hope I never find myself in a pickle ever again but if I do, I would hire Trey in a heartbeat. He’s honest, transparent, doesn’t beat around the bush, and will work tirelessly so that your clean record stays clean and unblemished. 5 stars, highly recommend!
I recently hired Trey Porter Law to help our teenage daughter with a drug charge. In the state of Texas she was being charged as an adult which carried a much stiffer penalty. Trey is very responsive, helpful, knowledgeable and is always available to answer any questions or concerns via phone, text or email. He was able to negotiate on her behalf so it was a pleasant experience. I would highly recommend Trey Porter Law.
Trey really helped me out. He was straight forward and professional, and really helped me in my case. I thought i was going to lose my job, but trey did everything in his power to help me keep my way of life, and still keeps up with me any details on my case.
I really appreciated all he did for me.
Trey is a phenomenal attorney that gets the job done right! He is dedicated to help his clients.
He made himself available and answered all my concerns immediately! I had faith in him and he continued to prove his expertise by helping me. I highly recommend Trey Porter!!
Trey Porter fought for me! I am a nurse and thought my career was over.
Very thankful I got Trey Porter involved. He responds to messages regularly and was very thorough.
He saved my career. Forever grateful!
Mr Porter is the real deal. You get what you pay for these days. I know that from my personal business dealings. Attorney Trey Porter was no different.
He was prompt, professional and poised. I was charged with DWI, and Mr Porter got the charge dismissed. I could not be more pleased or thankful. If you get a DWI, hire the best — hire Trey Porter.
WE FIGHT FOR DISMISSAL
WE FIGHT FOR DISMISSAL
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15
Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+
Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.
Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.
Contact Trey Porter Today
Request a free consultation
The stakes are high. Criminal charges can have devastating, lifelong consequences. During the free, confidential consultation, Mr. Porter will answer questions surrounding your legal matter, and discuss and identify potential defenses.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, the State is working on your conviction. It’s time to start building your defense.