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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16877
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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if you text someone, to have fun and I texted that person my

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if you text someone, to have fun and I texted that person my picture and phone number, can you be arrested by the police if that person goes to to report harassment, even if i changed my number to avoid being harassed by that very person i texted?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Hello Jacustomer,

What US state are you in? What US state is the other party in? Did the other party ask you not to text again and did you continue? (What make you think the other party is going to come after you for harassment?)

Please use the reply tab below.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Well im from NY, the other party texted me to not text them, and right away i said sorry, and they texted me several times to give them information and i never replied back

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The other party is also from NY but this person is a stranger to me

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Hi Jacustomer,

As luck would have it I am also from New York. The charge here if it were brought would be Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree. It is when you harass someone via a telephone, computer or some other electronic means. I have linked you to the statute, so that you can see it for yourself and read what the DA would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you of the charges. It is a class A misdemeanor which would carry a maximum of a year of jail time and/or a fine, and the other person would get a permanent order of protection making you subject to an arrest if you bothered him/her ever again while the order was still in effect.

That said, as you can see, in order to meet the harassment standard you have to intend to annoy, threaten or alarm someone by the communication, and the ADA must be able to prove that intent beyond a reasonable doubt. From your description here, when you found out she wasn't receptive to your communication and she asked you to leave her alone, you said you were sorry and then had no further communication with her. They would also have to prove that the messages came from you, and just the fact that your mobile phone was used, would not do that without more.

I don't know whether you two know each other, precisely what alarmed her or whether in your apology you indicated that you still wanted to stay in touch with him/her, but taking what you've said at face value, and assuming that you still have your copies of the communication, this may not rise to the level of harassment, if charges are ever brought.

Changing your phone number would not be enough to stop this person from attempting to press charges against you. The police and the DA would have the subpoena power to get your old phone records and locate you. Understand, however, that if they do bring charges against you, that doesn't mean you'd be convicted of the charges or even that it's a particularly good case against you.

To bring charges against you, all that the police need is probable cause, which is just a reasonable belief that a crime may have been committed and that you may have had something to do with it. The words of a credible complainant would be enough for a finding of probable cause because probable cause does not require very much evidence. From there however, a great deal of evidence is necessary for a conviction, as I have indicated above.

I think that if this person doesn't know enough information to find you that chances are this episode will go no further. However in the unlikely event that you do hear from the police and they want you to talk about this incident, do not discuss what you did or did not do. You have a right not to incriminate yourself and any statement you'd make to the police about this can be used against you. So just tell them that you want to speak to a lawyer and your lawyer will get back to them. And then go and consult with one. You won't have to hire a lawyer unless you are charged, but you do want to find one just in case. He or she will likely tell you not to talk to the police or will want to go with you if you do speak to them so that your rights are protected.

I don't want to scare you. Typically, if this charge ended up in court, if you had no criminal record, it would very likely be reduced to a regular harassment in the second degree, which is a violation and not a crime, and which would give the other party an order of protection while still allowing you to honestly say you'd never been convicted of a crime. At the end of a year if there were no further problems, the case would be sealed and the violation wouldn't appear on your record.

So cutting to the chase:

1) although they can charge you with this despite your change of phone numbers, it is not a great case for the state from what I see and you have evidence you did leave her alone.

2) if you were charged, you should be able to come out of this without a criminal record.

Just don't make the mistake of thinking that the police are out to help you if they call you and act chummy and friendly and ask what went on here. Keep in mind that when you hear on TV and movies that when you talk to the police anything you say can be used against you, it's really true.

If you need further clarification, use the reply tab below.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I deleted this persons number and copies of the communication, so in other words I have no proof. But like I said I apologized about contacting him/her and I did not reply to her text messages afterwords. She/He has all the text messages sent, so can she alter these text messages to put me in trouble? Additionally can she/he use altered copies of communication because the text messages show no signs of me wanting to meet this party.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

She couldn't alter them in her phone. I suppose she could print them out and alter them, but then what's in her phone didn't match and copies or the fact that she couldn't produce the originals would be an evidentiary problem.

I think that this will likely go nowhere from what you're saying, since you don't know her and have had no further contact.

Sometimes too, something like this may result in the police calling you, issuing you a warning, and telling you that any further contact will get you arrested. In my opinion, this whole incident doesn't seem to be worth much more than that.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.

So should i be in a situation where the authorities are contacting me, what are the means that they would do this? I am just worried about them showing up and what I should tell them for them to never bother me again.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

It's pretty likely that nothing at all will happen. All she knows about you is your phone number, which is not yours any more.

If the police call and ask you to come into the precinct to talk about an incident of harassment, you should go only with a lawyer and you should not discuss the incident with them until you've spoken to one.

If they call just to warn you off, there's nothng to say but "I understand. Thanks." In either case just don't make admissions about what you did or didn't do.

They will not come to your door and arrest you for something like this. The contact was electronic. It stopped. She's safe. You have no record. You'd get a citation and would not be physically arrested, if this were your first contact with the law.

As I already said, in my experience, this is worth no more than a violation.

Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16877
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.