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RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12132
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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I am beyond upset. My brother was in a huge fight with s

Customer Question

I am beyond upset. My brother was in a huge fight with his girlfriend. He told me frantically on the phone that she was trying to stab him and hung up. I called them both and couldn't get either. I thought she had truly hurt him. I then left a voicemail on her phone saying I can't believe it...a knife... if you hurt a hair on his head, I'll hurt you. She then text me immediately saying what was happening in her words. I responded saying they shouldn't be doing that in front if my nephew and they were neither innocent and it needed to stop. Next thing I know she filed a harassing communications claim against me?? That was 6 months ago and now she started texting me like nothing ever happened and we are best friends? I have to go to court in 2 weeks over a claim she acts like never took place. What's gonna happen?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for using Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you. I do need a little more information first, please. What state is this in?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Alabama...
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply. Here is the actual statute with which you are charged:

§ 13A-11-8. Harassment or harassing communications.

(a)(1) HARASSMENT. — A person commits the crime of harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he or she either:

a. Strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise touches a person or subjects him or her to physical contact.

b. Directs abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture towards another person.

(2) For purposes of this section, harassment shall include a threat, verbal or nonverbal, made with the intent to carry out the threat, that would cause a reasonable person who is the target of the threat to fear for his or her safety.

(3) Harassment is a Class C misdemeanor.

(b)(1) HARASSING COMMUNICATIONS. — A person commits the crime of harassing communications if, with intent to harass or alarm another person, he or she does any of the following:

a. Communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, telegraph, mail, or any other form of written or electronic communication, in a manner likely to harass or cause alarm.

b. Makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication.

c. Telephones another person and addresses to or about such other person any lewd or obscene words or language.

Nothing in this section shall apply to legitimate business telephone communications.

(2) Harassing communications is a Class C misdemeanor.

§ 13A-5-7. Sentences of imprisonment for misdemeanors and violations.

(a) Sentences for misdemeanors shall be a definite term of imprisonment in the county jail or to hard labor for the county, within the following limitations:

(1) For a Class A misdemeanor, not more than one year.

(2) For a Class B misdemeanor, not more than six months.

(3) For a Class C misdemeanor, not more than three months.

(b) Sentences for violations shall be for a definite term of imprisonment in the county jail, not to exceed 30 days.

§ 13A-5-12. Fines for misdemeanors and violations.

(a) A sentence to pay a fine for a misdemeanor shall be for a definite amount, fixed by the court, within the following limitations:

(1) For a Class A misdemeanor, not more than $6,000;

(2) For a Class B misdemeanor, not more than $3,000;

(3) For a Class C misdemeanor, not more than $500; or

(4) Any amount not exceeding double the pecuniary gain to the defendant or loss to the victim caused by the commission of the offense.

(b) A sentence to pay a fine for a violation shall be for a definite amount, fixed by the court, not to exceed $200, or any amount not exceeding double the pecuniary gain to the defendant or loss to the victim caused by the commission of the offense.

(c) As used in this section, "gain" means the amount of money or the value of property derived from the commission of the crime, less the amount of money or the value of property returned to the victim of the crime or seized or surrendered to lawful authority prior to the time sentence is imposed. "Value" shall be determined by the standards established in subdivision (14) of Section 13A-8-1.

(d) The court may conduct a hearing upon the issue of defendant's gain or the victim's loss from the crime according to procedures established by rule of court.

Thus, the prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to harass or alarm them. Your best argument against this is that she has been contacting you and texting you like nothing happened. If she was truly alarmed or frightened or believed that you were a threat, she would be avoiding contact with you. Furthermore, given the circumstances, it could be argued that a reasonable person would not take what you said as causing alarm.

Now, in an initial hearing, normally the court just wants you to enter a plea. Generally, since the state has the burden of proving your guilt, you should plead not guilty. At that point, the court will set the matter on the court docket for trial -which could be months away. During that time, your lawyer would have the ability to gather any evidence through discovery the state claims to have, and attempt to work out a resolution of your case. In light of her actions texting you, they may be able to get them to dismiss the charge.

If you do not have any prior criminal history, it is not likely that you would be looking at being sentenced to jail time, however you still might be sentenced to probation and/or community service and a fine if you were convicted.

If you need further information or clarification, please REPLY, and I'll be happy to assist you. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've never been accused of anything like this before. I am a mortgage banker. I'm on the Board of Realtors for my county, the Women's Council, and the Home Builders Association. I'm devestated that I was only panicked because I thought she was going to hurt my brother :(
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

I completely understand, and in my opinion, the charge never should have been brought. Unfortunately, the police only need "probable cause", which is a reasonable belief (in the officer's opinion) that a crime was committed. This is far lower a threshold then "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt", which is what the prosecutor must show.

Although this is certainly scary for you -- and very upsetting, obviously -- I really do think you have a good chance at having a lawyer argue for dismissal of the charge. Certainly DO NOT plead guilty at your court appearance, and talk to a defense lawyer about your options, because as I said, if the "victim" is contacting you like nothing happened, then it is hard for them to argue that they felt fear or alarm.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

Did you need any additional information or clarification? If so, please REPLY, and I'll be happy to assist you. Otherwise, please remember to leave me a positive rating (3-5 stars) as that is the only way experts on this site are compensated for their time. Thank you.