Online Harassment Laws – Texas Criminal Attorney
One of the most important purposes of laws in Texas is to maintain peace and public order. Some laws in the state ensure peace and public order by making criminal various dangerous or possibly violent actions. Other laws are effective in maintaining public order by making criminal various threatening behaviors.
Harassment laws are an example. Harassment is a very serious offense under the state laws of Texas. Many types of harassment may be charged as a misdemeanor, but recent changes can mean that you could be charged with a felony in some harassment situations, such as online.
Houston Criminal Attorney (281) 853-8537.
How Harassment Is Defined
The laws of this state are clear on the definition of harassment. There are two major parts of a harassment offense. The first is the intent of the perpetrator, and the other is the harassing behavior specifically.
Intent, according to Texas Penal Code Section 42.07, states that the person who engages in harassment must have had an intent to alarm, abuse, harass, torment or annoy another person.
The second part is the nature of the harassing behavior. Harassment under Texas law can include many different activities. Below are some of the most common forms of criminal harassment:
- Threatening to inflict harm on another person or threatening to commit a felony against the person, family or property.
- Calling a person on the phone and doing so in an annoying manner and not hanging up when the phone is answered.
- Sending communications electronically, including emails and text messages in a manner that is threatening and abusive.
This last point is especially pertinent in these times, given the wide use of the Internet and electronic devices in our daily lives.
***NOTE*** If you are currently being harassed, then you need to get help as soon as possible. That should include a call to the proper authorities. You may need to look into getting a temporary restraining order for immediate protection, or even take more drastic actions like asking for police protection. In certain cases, a divorce attorney may be able to help as well.
Online Harassment Laws Now in Effect
Several new harassment laws went into effect in Texas in 2009 that have had serious effects in the state. One of them made online harassment a third-degree felony.
This new law states that the person may be charged with online harassment if they use the name of another party to create a Website. Or they can be charged if they post one or more messages on a social media website without obtaining the consent of the person, if they did so with intent to defraud, harm, intimidate or threaten the person. Online harassment can be punished by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Internet users who blog often or engage regularly on Facebook and Twitter are warned to be especially wary. For example, if you have a disagreement with a co-worker, use caution when venting online. It is easier to be charged with online harassment in Texas than you might think.
Need a Lawyer?
If you have been charged with online harassment, then call our office for a free consultation (281) 853-8537.