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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 30365
Experience:  Criminal Justice Degree, JD with Criminal Law Concentration. Worked for the DA and U.S. Attorney.
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Good morning, I have a sister-in-law, that has tormented

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Good morning,

I have a sister-in-law, that has tormented myself, my mother, sisters, and cousin since she separated from my brother. She moved to Florida in January and has sent nasty texts since she's been there. I stopped replying to her texts back in February in hopes that she would realize that I want nothing to do with her, but still to this day she randomly sends vicious and rude texts. I"m tired and at my breaking point, so I want to tell her clearly in a response that I want to her cease from texting me and my family members, since our silence has not been clear enough for her. Can I do anything to legally stop her from contacting us, if she refuses to acknowledge my request?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

California law defines harassment as engaging in a course of conduct that "directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose." Cal. Pen. Code, Section 646.9. If any of the texts put you in reasonable fear of your safety or that of your family members, that's legally within the definition of stalking.

Interstate cyberstalking is also a federal crime. 18 U.S.C. 2261A. That statute covers all electronic communications, including text messages. Again, she has to be doing something to put you in reasonable fear of your safety before you can press criminal charges.

Florida law is similar - but it only requires that she cause you to experience substantial emotional distress. It does not require that you fear for your safety. Fl. Stat., Section 748.048.

There is also a civil cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress. That also includes a course of conduct that serves no legitimate purpose. Annoying you or expressing her dislike is not a legitimate purpose. So, depending on how bad the texts are, it might also be possible to sue for damages.

So, one option here is to send a formal "cease and desist" letter via certified mail letting her know that you will file criminal charges, sue her for damages or both if she texts you again. She might take it more seriously if you have a lawyer write it. Another option, if you primarily just want the texts to stop, is to ask the phone company to block all texts from her telephone number to yours. Some cell phone carriers have this capability.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
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