What is Harassment in Texas?
Harassment is a misdemeanor offense in Texas that stems from communications made to annoy, alarm, or abuse another. 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 is making contact with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass the other person.
Harassment cases are generally Class B misdemeanors, but if you have been convicted of a harassment case in the past the offense will be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor. Harassment is codified under Penal Code Section 42.07.
Examples of Harassment
- Harassment can be making incessant telephone calls, emails, or texts that are obscene.
- Harassment can 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 to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney who can offer perspective and begin uncovering the digital trail that could lead to the prosecutor reanalyzing their position.
If you or a loved one is being accused of harassment, call us today 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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The Law on Harassment in Texas
(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.