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My friend is being accused of harassment by texting in Texas.

What should he do?...
My friend is being accused of harassment by texting in Texas. What should he do?
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
5/2/2013
ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 17,512
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
Verified

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacEsq :

When you say he's "accused", do you mean that he's being charged with a crime? Has he been contacted / arrested by the police? Or is merely an accusation at this point?

ScottyMacEsq :

Are you there? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response.

ScottyMacEsq :

My apologies, but I must assist the other customers that are waiting. Once you respond to my follow up question, I will respond as soon as I can. Please note that I may be assisting other customers or otherwise out of the office (depending when you respond). Thank you.

Customer:

I believe he has been charged. A bon company contacted him. A jealous girlfriend sent the text.

ScottyMacEsq :

So just to be clear, the girlfriend sent the text from his phone? What was the content of the text? Was there more than one text?

ScottyMacEsq :

And to whom was it sent?

Customer:

Yes the girlfriend used his phone. I am not certain of the number of texts sent. The texts were sent to my friend's ex-wife. The text said something like: I will make it hard on you.

ScottyMacEsq :

and he has only been contacted by a bonding company? he has not actually been contacted by the police?

Customer:

No police. Notification from bonding company only.

ScottyMacEsq :

what did the bonding company say?

Customer:

Told him what their fee would be. No actual paperwork has been received by my friend from any entity, Is there preemptive

ScottyMacEsq :

It is somewhat rare and unusual to be contacted first by a bonding company before the police, especially if the police know where you live. Rather, I would suggest that you first contact the police and inquire whether or not there is a warrant out for your friend's arrest. if so, I would highly recommend getting an attorney and arranging for him to turn himself in. It's much better to do so, then to be surprised in the middle of the night or as part of a traffic stop to be taken in on an arrest warrant. he would need a bail bond if he were to be arrested, to be released, however like I said, it's entirely possible that there has not yet been an actual arrest warrant issued.

ScottyMacEsq :

The law itself, which the prosecutor would have to prove the elements of, is as follows:


Chapter 33, Penal Code, is amended by adding
Section 33.07 to read as follows:
Sec. 33.07. ONLINE HARASSMENT. (a) A person commits an offense if the person uses the name or persona of another person to create a web page on or to post one or more messages on a commercial social networking site :
(1) without obtaining the other person’s consent; and
(2) with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person sends an electronic mail, instant message, text message, or similar communication that references a name, domain address, phone number, or other item of identifying information belonging to any person:
(1) without obtaining the other person’s consent;
(2) with the intent to cause a recipient of the communication to reasonably believe that the other person authorized or transmitted the communication; and
(3) with the intent to harm or defraud any person.
(c) An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the third degree. An offense under Subsection (b) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the actor commits the offense with the intent to solicit a response by emergency personnel.
(d) If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.
(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor is any of the following entities or that the actor’s conduct consisted solely of action taken as an employee of any of the following entities:
(1) a commercial social networking site ;
(2) an Internet service provider;
(3) an interactive computer service, as defined by 47 U.S.C. Section 230;
(4) a telecommunications provider, as defined by Section 51.002, Utilities Code; or
(5) a video service provider or cable service provider, as defined by Section 66.002, Utilities Code.
(f) In this section:
(1) ” Commercial social networking site ” means any business, organization, or other similar entity operating a website that permits persons to become registered users for the purpose of establishing personal relationships with other users through direct or real-time communication with other users or the creation of web pages or profiles available to the public or to other users. The term does not include an electronic mail program or a message board program.
(2) “Identifying information” has the meaning assigned by Section 32.51.
SECTION 2. This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.

ScottyMacEsq :

note that a couple of required elements is intent to cause the recipient of the cliquish and reasonably believe that the other person authorized or transmitted communication and an intent to harm our defraud the person.

ScottyMacEsq :

If your friend is willing to testify that he did not send this, but rather his jealous girlfriend dead, then that could be a defense, in that he would not actually be the one who did it. However, the presumption is that his phone would be in his possession, and he would have to overcome that presumption. If his girlfriend is willing to testify that she sent it, then that would even be better.

ScottyMacEsq :

This at this point, where it is not certain that there has actually been any criminal charges filed or arrest warrants issued, other than a bonding company contacting your friend, again I would certainly contact the police and inquire whether or not there has been any warrants issued or anything else that your friend needs to be concerned about.

ScottyMacEsq :

Now if there is a warrant, that does make things a bit more complicated, and that it would be best to have an attorney assist in "turning himself then" and crafting a legal defense that would actually be successful.That being said, you need to contact an attorney in your area that deals with criminal law cases. Go to www.lawyers.com or www.legalmatch.com to find an attorney in your area. You should be able to find one that will give you a free initial consultation and better advise you of your rights, any problems with your case, likelihood of success, how courts are treating cases such as yours in your area, and what you should do next.

ScottyMacEsq :

ultimately the strength of this case will be dependent upon whether he could establish that he did not actually send the text messages, as well as the actual content of the messages and whether or not they would reasonably elicit a fear response, and what the intent, from an objective standpoint, would be viewed.

ScottyMacEsq :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

ScottyMacEsq :

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

ScottyMacEsq :

Are you there? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response.

ScottyMacEsq :

Should I continue to await your response, or may I assist the other customers that are waiting?

ScottyMacEsq :

My apologies, but I must assist the other customers that are waiting. If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time (~45 minutes) and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 17,512
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
Verified
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Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 17,512
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