Harassment in everyday usage can encompass a wide range of activities and be used fairly broadly. In Texas, the crime of harassment must involve specific statutorily defined actions.
Harassment is a misdemeanor offense in Texas, but a conviction can still come with some pretty major consequences. Alleged offenders in these cases could be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines and may have to serve jail sentences.
Harassment Defense Lawyer in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, TX
If you or your loved one were arrested for an alleged harassment offense in the Dallas area, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas. Our firm will work to potentially get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Harassment Charges in Texas
Texas Penal Code § 42.07(a) establishes that a person commits a harassment offense if, with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another, they:
- initiate communication and in the course of the communication makes a comment, request, suggestion, or proposal that is obscene;
- threaten, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the threat, to inflict bodily injury on the person or to commit a felony against the person, a member of the person’s family or household, or the person’s property;
- convey, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the report, a false report, which is known by the conveyor to be false, that another person has suffered death or serious bodily injury;
- cause the telephone of another to ring repeatedly or makes repeated telephone communications anonymously or in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another;
- make a telephone call and intentionally fails to hang up or disengage the connection;
- knowingly permit a telephone under the person’s control to be used by another to commit an offense under this section; or\
- send repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.
Under Texas Penal Code § 42.07(b)(1), electronic communication is defined as “a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system.” The phrase includes a communication initiated through the use of electronic mail, instant message, network call, a cellular or another type of telephone, a computer, a camera, text message, a social media platform or application, an Internet website, any other Internet-based communication tool, or facsimile machine, and a communication made to a pager.
Family is defined under Texas Family Code § 71.003 as including individuals related by consanguinity or affinity, individuals who are former spouses of each other, individuals who are the parents of the same child, without regard to marriage, and a foster child and foster parent, without regard to whether those individuals reside together. A household is defined under Texas Family Code § 71.005 as meaning a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other.
Under Texas Penal Code § 42.07(b)(3), obscene is defined as “containing a patently offensive description of or a solicitation to commit an ultimate sex act, including sexual intercourse, masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus, or a description of an excretory function.” A harassment offense is a Class B misdemeanor, but the crime is a Class A misdemeanor if:
- the alleged offender has previously been convicted of this offense; or
- the offense involved sending repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another and the offense was committed against a child under 18 years of age with the intent that the child commits suicide or engage in conduct causing serious bodily injury to the child, or the alleged offender has previously violated a temporary restraining order or injunction.
Harassment Penalties in Dallas
Harassment crimes generally carry the following possible sentences:
- Class B Misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000
- Class A Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000
Many alleged offenders in these cases can face restraining orders after being convicted that dramatically limit their freedom.
Harassment Defenses in Texas
Some people are charged with harassment when they simply did not intend to engage in harassing behavior. You will want an attorney who can articulate your true motives and present your case in the most favorable possible light.
In some cases, people may be charged with harassment crimes based on the testimony of an alleged victim. Reviews of cell phone records may be used to prove that contact was not as frequent as claimed and could result in the criminal charges being thrown out.
Dallas County Harassment Resources
Harassment | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — The EEOC states that harassment is “a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).” You can learn more about employer liability for harassment. The EEOC requires people to file charge within 180 or 300 days of the last incident of harassment.
Workplace Bullying: Know Your Rights | Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD)— The mission of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities is to create change so that all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. It is governed by a 27-member Council, consisting of individuals appointed by the Governor and other individuals, and it is federally required to be comprised of at least 60 percent persons with developmental disabilities, their parents or guardians, or other immediate relatives. The TCDD website states that bullying is harassment, and you can use this website to learn more about what your rights are and what you can do if you are being bullied or harassed.
Find A Dallas County Defense Attorney for Harassment Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Were you or a loved arrested for an alleged harassment offense in Dallas or a different part of Texas?
Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas. Our firm will work to potentially get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.