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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16039
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I am a guy who is 19 years old and I live in mississippi.

Customer Question

I am a guy who is 19 years old and I live in mississippi. I am friends with this girl who is 17 years old and lives in new york, just north of new york city. One important thing to note is that I have been friends with this girl since October 10, 2008. Keep in mind, we have never met in person and we've kept our friendship online only, but only because of economical reasons. On February 20, 2012, me and her were supposed to call on skype that night. For reasons unknown to me, she had deactivated her facebook account, and never showed up that night. I called her house phone several times that night, but I didn't use my phone number. I used a call spoofing website called bluffmycall to conceal my real phone number. I probably called 5-10 times, which I realize was very stupid of me, but I was just desperate to speak to her and find out what was wrong. The next day, I called her house about 4 times, all using the spoof calling service. The 3rd time I called, the girl's father answered and said my name, but i accidentally hung up. I then proceeded to call again, and he repeated my name and i asked who is this, and he simply replied "You'll find out soon enough" and he hung up. So I ended my phone calls to their house that day which was February 21st. On February 22nd, tuesday, I received a call from "914". It didn't show the full number, just the area code, when I answered the man identified himself as a police officer. He sounded extremely official, he genuinely sounded like an officer, but other than his convincing performance on the phone and area code only number, I have no other way to know if this really was an officer of the law or not. Anyways, he started talking to me about how he had jackie in front of him, along with her parents, and that jackie had told him that I was harassing her and that he said he was calling because he needed me to stop. He said I am NOT to contact her, in any way shape or form, through 3rd parties, letters, skype, email, facebook, electronically, etc. He said "should you refuse my order, I will contact the local police department in your area and you will be arrested and charged for harassment". He then confirmed with me "Are we clear now?" and I said "yes" of course. He said that it's now in their records at their department. What i don't know is whether the girl did this of her own free will or not. I don't believe she did, I believe she was bullied by her parents into filing this harassment report against me.  Her parents dislike me extremely simply because I'm an internet friend, even though I've been friends with this girl since 2008 and no harm has ever happened to her from me.

 What I would like to know is, can I legally contact this girl? If I contact the girl, and her parents move on to file charges against me, will the police come to my house and arrest me? Or will I just receive a court summons? If I'm wrong, please explain this? 


Also, if I receive a court summons, will court be held all the way in New York? (I live in mississippi remember) 


I have heard that since she is 17, she is a minor, and her parents can dictate who she can or cannot speak to, and can enforce it by doing what they did now, by filing a harassment report and possibly escalating it to full blown charges should I continue. Is this true? 


How can I know that I really spoke to a police officer on the phone? 


If they cannot file harassment charges against me, is there any way the officer or the girls parents will "improvise" to prevent me from contacting her? Like, by trying to find a different law that I may or may not be breaking? 


Also, as a last resort option, if I were to drive all the way up to new york to visit my friend, would I get arrested? I see that there are laws on international stalking and harassment and all that other stuff. Please know this, I am not out to hurt this girl, she is my best friend and means the world to me. Her parents have filed a harassment report against me, if I go up to new york and live in that general area that she lives in, can I in ANY WAY get in trouble? 


 And one last thing, just for my own reassurance, could you cite which laws you are referring to so i can be certain I'm safe from or in danger of prosecution?

Also, should this go to court, will it be easy to subpoena the phone call spoof company that I used to fake my phone number as someone else's?  Could they subpoena any other internet companie's like google for it's email records, or skype for their phone records, or my isp for my internet records?  Is it an easy process for law enforcement to subpoena a company?  Or is it costly and time consuming for law enforcement and only reserved for matters more serious than what I'm dealing with?  



And should I actually be charged, what is the most I could be charged with?  My guess is simply a misdemeanor charge for harassment, but of which degree and class I have no clue.  What do you think?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello Jacustomer,

It can happen that the police will call someone and put them on notice that the next time there is contact between the person and the complainant, charges can be filed. This usually happens when a person reports the offense, which is one that is not particularly serious, and says she doen't want the caller arrested yet but just warned.

All this means is that if you bother her again, the complainant will go to the police, and yes, they can notify the police where you are that charges are going to be pressed against you in New York. Whether this was or wasn't a police officer who called you is not as important as the fact that you are on notice that they will press charges with future contact. You cannot afford to assume that whoever called you didn't mean it. The complanant is not required to use the police to warn you first. She can go to them in the first place and ask that you be charged with a crime.

If you receive a citation, you will have to appear in court or a warrant will issue for your arrest. Additionally she will have a protective order that can be enforced, meaning that you would be subjected to further charges for your contempt of the order.

If you were to go to New York and visit your friend and your attentions were not welcome you will be arrested. Aggravated harassment would be one of the charges, and depending upon what else transpired there could be more -- such as trespassing.

There are Federal interstate stalking statutes. Your behavior doesn't rise to the level of that as you are making no threat, and you'd likely only have to worry about a state prosecution. The offense in question is Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree. It is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a three year order of protection during which time you could have no contact with the complainant.. I have linked you to the statute.

I suggest that if this is not her idea, she will contact you. And you'd be better off waiting for that than to risk what you have been told would happen. Yeah, it could be a bluff. But yeah, it could also be three years of probation and a criminal record.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your response, but I added a few questions which I don't think you got:

Also, should this go to court, will it be easy to subpoena the phone call spoof company that I used to fake my phone number as someone else's? Could they subpoena any other internet companie's like google for it's email records, or skype for their phone records, or my isp for my internet records? Is it an easy process for law enforcement to subpoena a company? Or is it costly and time consuming for law enforcement and only reserved for matters more serious than what I'm dealing with?

Also, if I receive a court summons, will court be held all the way in New York? (I live in mississippi remember)

I have heard that since she is 17, she is a minor, and her parents can dictate who she can or cannot speak to. Is this true?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello,

1) They don't necessarily need the phone records since they could testify to receipt of the phone calls, but it's comparatively easy for a state prosecutor to get subpoenas honored for purposes of prosecution.

2) Yes, court would be in New York, as that's where the alleged offense occurred. As I've already said, your failure to appear would result in a warrant for your arrest. Although you realistically would not have to worry about being extradited on a misdemeanor offense, it could still inconvenience you whenever it turns up, since every state will give full faith and credit to a sister state's warrant. If you don't tend to it, you'll find it can hurt you on employment background checks, for example, or when you're apartment hunting. It can ultimately result in the suspension of your license and more.

3) Yes she is living at home and is not emancipated. Her parents can at least try to control who she sees, the way parents have since time immemorial.

Do I think this matter will go that far as to send a citation to Florida? At one time, I would have said no. But these days when internet abuse of one kind or another is changing the shape of the law, it's possible.

I have to go to sleep. If you need more information, please reply and I'll get back to you in the morning.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
1) But the thing with that is, I used a phone call spoofing company. I called her house with a fake phone number, that fake phone number happened to be phone numbers in her area, some of which were real phone numbers of actual people in her area code which I randomly made up. So if they bring up a list of phone calls from "me", it'll just show the fake phone numbers. How could they tie that back to me?

And just a general question about subpoena's, are they very easy to send out and stuff? Say for example they wanted to subpoena my internet service provider to check up on what sites i've been using to contact her. Are subpoena's easy and cheap to send out and receive timely responses to?

2)If court were held in New York, I would pull together my finances to get there of course. You said i don't have to worry about being extradited, which is very reassuring. So the police will NOT arrest me in mississippi? What if I get pulled over, will they see that there is a warrant for my arrest in a different state? And if so, what will they do if they won't extradite me to new york? Lastly, let's say I do not show up to court in New York, and a warrant goes out for my arrest and it's on my record and stuff, will that affect my current employment? Like, will I be fired if my current employer checks my criminal background again?

3)I meant like, can her parents legally stop me from contacting her assuming I was behaving and acting completely legally? Or can all they do is say "stay away from my daughter" and tell their daughter "stop talking to that boy" ?

4)So, what you're saying is that this ENTIRE situation is dependent upon whether the girl herself consents to my presence/communication? What if she didn't want to file the harassment report, and we end up talking again in the future, and her parents report that I'm talking to her, can I get in trouble even if the girl consents to me talking to her?

5)So does this mean that it doesn't matter if her parents hate it if I talk to her, so long as she consents to me talking to her, it's legal?

6)If I drive all the way to new york to live there, and I get a job there, let's say she walks into MY place of employment. Keep in mind I have not contacted her in any way, I've simply moved to the area and gotten a job there. Could she theoretically call the police on me and have me arrested/prosecuted if she was the one that came into my place of employment and found my presence unwelcome? Is this legal for me to do? If this is illegal, which law am I breaking?

7)Given the fact that I faked my phone number to call this girl's house late at night, but that it wasn't MY phone number and it was someone else's. If I were in the future to just contact her one time like through gmail, would that be enough evidence for them to file charges against me? Generally speaking, how much evidence do they need? And how would they go about gathering evidence? Do they just print out the websites from their computer of where I contacted them? Or do they subpoena the companies to make sure the "printed pictures" weren't faked?

8)Let's say I contact the girl through gmail. She reads it, and proceeds to tell her parents "mom, mark tried to contact me through gmail", her mom then says "okay, let's go tell the police now". When they tell the police, what do the police do from that point? My general understanding is the police would need evidence, correct? Assuming they compiled enough evidence to file a charge against me, what process do they go through to file charges against me and summon me to court and such?

I am going to pay you, I just need to be absolutely certain I have ALL my facts straight if I am going to attempt to contact this girl.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
1) I cannot vouch for the speed in which a DA gets a response to a subpoena. I do know that as a general rule, they do not bring a case in the first instance, if they don’t think they can meet their burden of proof. In any case you’ve missed the point. All you are discussing at this point is past history. If you are arrested it will be for whatever you do next, and not for what you did. They will have evidence that you were told to leave this person alone or that you would be prosecuted.

2) I didn’t say you wouldn’t be arrested in Mississippi. I said you wouldn’t be extradited. If you were picked up for anything in Mississippi -- a driving infraction, for example – and the police ran your license and found the warrant, he may or may not take you in and you could be held until New York was reached and said they were not interested in extraditing. Yes, the warrant would be found on any background check, regardless of what state you were in, and yes if your employer found it he would certainly dislike it and could terminate you.

3) Her parents cannot do anything legally against you if you are not breaking any laws. However they can be parents. They can tell you that you are not welcome on their property, which means if you show up you can be arrested for trespassing. They can tell their daughter to stop talking to you and do whatever other things parents typically do to children whose behavior annoys them.

4) No, I didn’t say that at all. I said you’ve been warned by her and her parents through the police to have nothing further to do with her. I cannot predict the future or guarantee you that it was really the police who called you. However, I can guarantee that you’ve been given notice to stay away, and I can tell you what could happen to you if you disobey that. If the girl contacts you, as there is no order of protection against you at this time, you could talk to her, so long as she welcomes that. Her parents won’t like it but it will likely get nowhere as a case, even if they did manage to charge you with something.

5) I don’t know. Depends upon the facts and circumstances. It is not, in general illegal for a 19 year old to talk to a 17 year old, if that’s what they both want to do. But you have been told that she doesn’t want it.

6) If you have had no contact with her and she walks into someplace where you are and there is no order of protection against you, there would be no reason for her to involve the police, unless you then and there said or did something that made your attentions unwelcome.

7) The complainant’s word is evidence all by itself and may be sufficient to give the police probable cause to cite you and the DA probable cause to file charges if it gives them a reasonable belief that a crime may have been been committed and that you may have been the one to commit it.

You seem not to get the whole point of the phone call. They said DO NOT CONTACT. That means do not contact whether by phone, by gmail, by Facebook,by letter, by proxy, by smoke signals or in person. You can spin your wheels writing pages of “what if’s” but it is not a constructive use of either your time or mine. I can't tell you the time and attention that police are likely to spend on this case and precisely what the DA will need to prove it. I have no crystal ball. Want to see just what they need for evidence, and how quickly they can get it and whether they can make it stick? Ignore the warning. I've told you what you're risking. I don't recommend that, but all the rest is up to you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
1)You said I would only get in trouble for whatever i do next. So something as simple as a phone call, would there be a severe punishment for that? Like as in me going to jail for x amount of months or something?

4)If I contact the girl, and she welcomes my contact. But her parents tell the police that I contacted her, can I get in trouble if the girl tells the police that she welcomes my contact?

6)Well, if it were her parents that walked into my place of employment, they would know who I was. And even though I had made zero attempts to contact their daughter, they would definitely call the police. Am I breaking any laws by simply moving to the area and working there?

7)Are you saying that simple hearsay is enough to file charges against me??
Parents - "This boy named mark contacted my daughter after we asked him not to"
Police - "We'll file charges right away"

Is this what would happen? I thought they'd need written evidence, certainly something more worthy than simple hearsay
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello,

I am sorry for the delay, but I have been on the phone getting some computer support for a problem with my primary computer.

I don't know how many times I can tell you the same thing.

She was present with the police when the call was made. The call warned you that you risk arrest if you contact her again. Anybody can get anyone else arrested if they want to. The standard for an arrest is very low. It only requires probable cause. Reread above. A witness can get you arrested. A person who saw nothing but simply heard it from someone else could get you arrested. Anyone can report a crime.

Once arrested, the standard for a conviction is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and that's when the state has to produce what it feels is enough evidence to meet its burden. But can you at least get arrested and charged on the parents' say so? Almost certainly. Can you get convicted? I haven't got the faintest idea. The whole situation is hypothetical and entirely too speculative.

I suggest you reread my previous answers. Your other questions have already been addressed at least once. I have nothing further to add. It's all been said several times, and it's time for both of us to stop going around in circles.

I wish you good luck whether you plan on abiding with the police warning or whether you don't.

Enjoy your weekend.



.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I don't see where you answered question 4. I just wanted to know, if she welcomes my contact, can I get in trouble?

For question 6, I just wanted to know if it was legal for me to move to the area that she lives and get a job there, so long as I don't attempt to contact her.

For question 7, I've read that harassment laws are based on intent. Such as intent to alarm, annoy, threaten, etc. By simply contacting her regarding a positive subject, is that harassment? If it is not my intent to harass or do anything negative to her, is it harasssment?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello,

No contact means no contact of any sort. An angry phone call is no different from a dozen roses. No contact means NO contact. No way, no how, no ifs ands or but.

You can live wherever you want.

Take the police call at face value, or risk getting arrested for aggravated harassment. It's that simple. Your lawyer will deal with the matter of your intent and everything else you're presently anguishing over, if/when you have to fight the case.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Okay. So if she consents to me contacting her, how would she go about removing this harassment report so that it is 100% okay for me to contact her?

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello,

I'm sorry but I'm finished with this question. I've opted out in case anyone has more they want to add.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I asked for a high level of detail though...
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
And I took the time to give it to you. I have nothing more to say.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
How is she supposed to go about removing this harassment report so it is okay for us to talk to each other without fear of legal consequences?

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