Appeals Court (August 30, 2006)

Each separate unauthorized "login" to a computer system is a separate offense, which is distinguished from the subsequent accessing of individual documents during that "login."

The defendant gained unlawful access to his ex-wife's computer after his daughter gave him the password. As a result, he read and copied several personal email (18 email on 13 different dates) she had sent to her new fiancé, and provided copies to the fiancé's former wife. This evidence provided the basis for the defendant's convictions for 15 counts of unauthorized access to a computer system in violation of G.L. c. 266, §120F.

On appeal, the Appeals Court reduced the unauthorized access convictions to a single conviction. Determining that access is determined by "logins," the court held that the multiple dates on the email did not provide sufficient evidence of multiple accesses. Specifically, there was no evidence (or jury instruction) permitting the jury to consider each dated email as a separate "login," or to view the occurrence of the same date on several printouts as reflecting one "login."