A Bloomington woman who took her ex-boyfriend’s Snapchat password from his computer without permission and posted nude images sent to him by another woman committed computer trespassing, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday.
For two years, B.G. had been in an “on-again/off-again relationship” with her ex-boyfriend, Gage East. In July 2019, B.G. had communicated with East via Snapchat because she believed he was no longer in a relationship with his other ex-girlfriend, Kelsie West. B.G. sent several intimate and nude photographs of herself to East via Snapchat.
Soon after the messages were sent, B.G. saw the photos of herself on West’s Facebook page with a caption that read, “This is what Gage has been up to since November while also sleeping with me and talking to other girls.”
In interviews, West told police she had a child with East and she was angry with him because he was engaged in sexual relationships with B.G. and other women. West confirmed she obtained the photographs from East’s phone and then posted them to social media. Based upon the information that West provided, the police requested that an arrest warrant be issued for her.
Two months later, the state charged West with one count of distribution of an intimate image, a Class A misdemeanor. West filed her first motion to dismiss about a year later, alleging the facts supporting the charge did not constitute a crime.
In October 2020, the state filed a motion to amend the charging information to add Count II, computer trespass, a Class A misdemeanor. The Monroe Circuit Court granted the state’s motion to amend before the state filed a motion to dismiss Count I, which was granted.
West filed a second motion to dismiss in November 2020, again alleging the facts relied upon in support of Count II didn’t constitute a crime. In her motion, West indicated that during a deposition, East stated that West had retrieved the password for his phone from his personal laptop computer.
The trial court ultimately denied West’s second motion to dismiss.
On appeal, West argued the trial court abused its discretion by denying her motion to dismiss the computer trespass charge because a single computer cannot constitute a “computer system” to satisfy the elements of the computer trespass offense. She argued the court abused its discretion in two ways:
- By concluding, as a matter of law, that a single computer can qualify as a “computer system” for purposes of Indiana Code § 35-43-2-3, the computer trespass statute.
- In finding that it is for the trier of fact and not the trial court to decide whether West’s use of East’s laptop falls within the meaning of “computer system” — defined as “a set of related computer equipment, software, or hardware” — because a definition of the word “set” is not found in caselaw and is not provided in the computer trespass statute.
The appellate court disagreed on both assertions.
On the first, the COA concluded the Legislature intended a single computer to fall within the definition of “computer system.”
The COA also dismissed the second argument, citing Siebe v. Heilman Mach. Works, 38 Ind. App. 37, 77 N.E. 300, 302 (1906); Timm v. State, 644 N.E.2d 1235, 1238 (Ind. 1994); and Glover v. State, 441 N.E.2d 1360, 1362 (Ind. 1982).
The case is Kelsie L. West v. State of Indiana, 21A-CR-404.