What is Harassment in Texas?

The criminal offense of Harassment is a misdemeanor that focuses on communications made to annoy, alarm, abuse another. (Texas Penal Code 42.07). It is closely related the offense of stalking, which is a felony offense.

Harassment charges are often filed after a relationship – personal or professional – goes awry and an individual is accused of calling, texting, or emailing another incessantly. What may first seem like a nuisance can turn into a criminal charge if the individual accused of harassment was making contact with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass the other person.

Harassment cases are generally Class B misdemeanors, although if you have been convicted of a Harassment case in the past your offense will be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor. Harassment is codified under Penal Code Section 42.07.

Harassment can be making incessant telephone calls, emails, texts, that is obscene.

Harassment an be threats to inflict bodily harm made in writing, over the phone, by text, or other electronic message.

Harassment can be falsely reporting a death or serious bodily injury in order to alarm a person.

Harassment can be making the phone ring incessantly.

Harassment can be sending constant text messages that are likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend.

Harassment can be calling and hanging up repeatedly.

Harassment can be repeatedly sending emails, texts or other electronic messages in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.

What is obscene?

Obscene means a “patently offensive description of or a solicitation to commit an ultimate sex act.”

What is an electronic communication?

An electronic communication is a sign, signal, writing, image, sound, data or intelligence that is transmitted over a wire, radio, or other electronic, magnetic or optics system.

The most important thing to do if you are charged with harassment is for you to contact a criminal defense attorney who can offer perspective and begin uncovering the digital trail that could lead to the prosecutor reanalyzing their position.

Contact us

Call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal Lawyers are here to help. During this call we will:

  • Discuss the facts of your case;
  • Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
  • Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.

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Harassment

(a)  A person commits an offense if, with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another, he:

(1)  initiates communication by telephone, in writing, or by electronic communication and in the course of the communication makes a comment, request, suggestion, or proposal that is obscene;

(2)  threatens, by telephone, in writing, or by electronic communication, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the threat, to inflict bodily injury on the person or to commit a felony against the person, a member of his family or household, or his property;

(3)  conveys, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the report, a false report, which is known by the conveyor to be false, that another person has suffered death or serious bodily injury;

(4)  causes the telephone of another to ring repeatedly or makes repeated telephone communications anonymously or in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another;

(5)  makes a telephone call and intentionally fails to hang up or disengage the connection;

(6)  knowingly permits a telephone under the person’s control to be used by another to commit an offense under this section;  or

(7)  sends repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.

(b)  In this section:

(1)  “Electronic communication” means a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system.  The term includes:

(A)  a communication initiated by electronic mail, instant message, network call, or facsimile machine;  and

(B)  a communication made to a pager.

(2)  “Family” and “household” have the meaning assigned by Chapter 71, Family Code.

(3)  “Obscene” means containing a patently offensive description of or a solicitation to commit an ultimate sex act, including sexual intercourse, masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus, or a description of an excretory function.

(c)  An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the actor has previously been convicted under this section.