Annoying Or Harassing Phone Calls – Penal Code §653m
I’m usually seeing these annoying phone call cases filed in boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife type situations where one party is done with the other party and the other party doesn’t realize it or they realize it and they don’t care and they continue to attempt to get the other party’s attention or they become angry with the other party, so now they’re going to send a bunch of text message, emails or make a bunch of phone calls. Any of these will do the trick if there’s enough of them. They’re annoying.
One big thing and where we get defenses on these cases is if the other party doesn’t tell the person that’s making these alleged annoying phone calls – hey listen, please do not call me anymore. In that case, there could be an argument made that hey, I didn’t know that they didn’t want me to call them anymore. Just because they all of a sudden decide they’re done doesn’t mean that I realize that they’re done. So, that can be a defense and we use that defense all the time. We say listen, you have to make it known to the other person. A lot of times we’re seeing the police call up a party and say listen, we got a call and this other party doesn’t want you contacting them anymore. Don’t email them, don’t follow them, don’t make a bunch of phone calls, don’t text them. Leave them alone. If you don’t, then we’re going to file a case against you. I see that all the time.
A lot of times people won’t listen to that, believe it or not. They just can’t stop themselves, so they’ll continue to torture the other party. Then the police will come and arrest them. They’ll charge them with this 653m and be charged with annoying or harassing phone calls, which I’ve indicated fits under the umbrella of sending a bunch of crazy text messages. If you start to get into it and you leave a nasty or threatening message, they’ll also charge you with criminal threats and then they can add this charge on as well.
So, if you’re being charged with a violation of Penal Code §653m, annoying or harassing phone calls, harassment is another element. They have to show that you’re actually doing it in order to harass the person. Now, a lot of times I see people say listen, I wasn’t trying to harass. I’m trying to get ahold of them. They won’t call me back. They won’t return my calls. This is somebody I’ve been with for a long time and I’m trying to find out what’s going on with them. Listen, the bottom line is reasonableness. If whatever it is that you’re doing is reasonable and it makes sense, then you shouldn’t be charged or convicted with annoying or harassing phone calls. But, if on the other hand, the other party can prove that they made it real clear to you that you need to leave them alone and you continue to call them, then we’re going to have a problem.
Another clear violation of this section is when somebody calls another party a hundred times in one night. Ridiculous. Or texts them over and over and over again with no response. At some point a jury is going to look at it and say listen, you can’t do it. You went too far. This is not reasonable and we’re not going to permit it.
So, if you’ve got an annoying or harassing phone call case you want to get to an attorney because you don’t want this on your record if you can avoid it. There are things that can be done to get you lesser charged or just get rid of the charge altogether. To me it’s important because somebody who is looking at you as a prospective employee in the future and they see that you have this annoying or harassing phone call, really is not going to look kindly upon you. So, we need some sort of another charge or if we can get the case dismissed, obviously we do that. But if we can’t get the case dismissed because you went too far, then obviously we’re going to want to get some sort of a lesser charge that does not look as bad on your criminal record.
What Are The Punishments For Annoying Or Harassing Phone Calls Pursuant To Penal Code Section 653m?
The prosecutors can send you to jail and a lot of times they do want to send people to jail because they want to teach them a lesson. They want to make them stop. They want to show them that you don’t do this to other people. Leave the other person alone. If you continue to bother them then we’re going to send you to jail over and over and over again.
Another punishment they give us is what’s called a protective order where they say listen, you are ordered – the judge orders you to stay away from the other party. Don’t call them. Don’t text them. Don’t go near them. Stay a hundred yards away from them. This is one of the big things they do, and if they violate the order they charge you with a new case, they arrest you and then they’re definitely going to want to try to put you in jail to punish you for what you did. So, you’re looking at jail time. You’re looking at a protective order. You’re looking at being put on probation for a period of time. You’re looking at other things depending on what you did. They can make you do Caltrans, community service, community labor – all sorts of things – again depending on what you did and what the prosecutor and judge deem appropriate for the circumstances of your particular case.
Obviously, you need a champion. You need a defense attorney who has done these cases and can fight for you and tell your version of the story because there’s always more than meets the eye to a story and you need your story told and you need somebody that’s going to fight for you and protect your rights, your freedom and your reputation.
For more information on Annoying Or Harassing Phone Calls, a free initial consultation is your best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 374-3952 today.
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