Annoying Phone Codes – Penal Code Section 653m
When it comes to the crime of annoying phone calls, this falls under the umbrella of making harassing phone calls, obscene phone calls or even threatening phone calls. California Penal Code Section 653m was created in order to protect against someone who becomes angry or infatuated with another person and begins to call them repeatedly, and basically is using the phone in order to harass the person to a criminal level.
This is not to be confused with civil harassment, which is grounds enough to get a restraining order. When it comes to annoying phone calls, if the conduct is serious enough the prosecutors will take the case and file a criminal case against the person and they will be looking at criminal penalties versus getting a restraining order placed against them.
Excessive Calls Designed to Harass
In order to prove the crime of annoying phone calls, basically the prosecutors have to show repeated phone calls and the phone calls must be unwanted by the other person. If a person is just calling a couple of times and the two parties are in an argument, this would not be grounds in order to get a Penal Code Section 653m annoying phone call case, filed against the person. The prosecutor would just tell them no, we're not going to deal with that case.
If, on the other hand, the person has called ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty times and won't stop, and the other party has made it clear – listen, don't call me anymore, I don't want to have anything to do with you – and that person continues to call them over and over again – and they're doing it in such a way that they're basically designed to harass them – or if somehow, they want to contact them, and the other party doesn't want to be contacted by them – at some point the police will get involved. This type of crime is often related to domestic violence issues.
They will investigate it, they will talk to both parties, and if one party has gone too far and has made way too many phone calls and done so in such a manner that the person that they're making the calls to, told them not to do it anymore, and they won't stop, then the police will charge and annoying phone call case.
Defenses To Annoying Or Harassing Phone Calls
Some cases I've seen where people become engaged in some sort of a business argument and one party – in order to take advantage of the other party – will bring the police involved and say they're getting harassing or annoying phone calls. In this scenario, obviously if it can be shown that the party that's claiming they are being harassed actually cheated the other party or did some sort of a criminal act, then this could be a defense to an annoying phone call case.
However, you have to realize that if somebody cheats you or does something or your money is taken or cheat you in a business agreement or violates a contract, your best remedy is to hire a lawyer and sue them in civil court and get a judgment against them. It's usually never a good idea to take matters into your own hands and start making a bunch of threatening phone calls to the person, because ultimately that can get flipped on you and you could be the one that ends up in the difficult situation.
However, I have had cases that I've been able to defend these charges, where the other party was just simply trying to take advantage of my client who they cheated out of money and my client was just simply trying to get their money back. So, again a lot of these cases, you kind of have to try to feel it out and, you know, really it all usually comes to reasonableness even in annoying phone call cases.
If one side is acting unreasonable – they're making multiple calls – they're trying to basically take the law and matters into their own hands, at some point the police will interject. They will investigate the case, do a police report and then send it to the prosecutors and see if they want to file the case and intervene criminally.
Any time you're in a situation where you feel like the other party could turn on you and accuse you of some sort of criminal activity – like annoying, harassing, obscene phone calls – your best bet is not to contact them any more and move on with our life or get a lawyer and sue them civilly.
Sometimes if it's a questionable annoying phone call case, I've seen the police call the party up that's making all of the phone calls and say listen, this other party does not want you to contact them anymore. Stop calling them. If you call them again and I hear about it, and I can prove it, then I'm going to come and I'm going to arrest you and I'm going to send you into court to deal with an annoying phone call case.
Another potential defense is to say listen, I'm not the person that's making these alleged annoying phone calls. I didn't call the person. I don't know who's calling them, but it's not me. So that's where the police know that they're going to have to be able to prove that whoever they're going to charge with annoying phone calls, is actually the person making the phone calls.
Sometimes people will make calls on different kind of calling cards where their number can't be tracked. So, usually again, the cases I'm seeing are the easy ones for the police to prove – the dummy leaves a message on the person's machine with all of their information on it, threatening to get him or leaves multiple messages on the machine. That's it. Now they've got the case.
Developing a Defense Strategy
Now it's just a matter of trying to explain why you did that and how harsh the prosecutors are going to be in dealing with you. So, if you've got one of these cases and you're worried about it, I suggest you give me a call, we'll sit down and go over everything in the privacy of my office. Call our California criminal defense lawyers to review your case.
Give me all the details on it and we'll design a plan – and obviously, the plan is going to be set up so we can try to protect your record, keep you out of custody and preserve your reputation as well. No one wants to have any type of criminal case pending against them, especially of this nature.
In an annoying phone call case, if somebody sees that on your record, obviously they're going to think you've got something wrong with you. It's going to make you have a difficult time getting a job and leading a productive life.