What Do You Do If You Are Charged With Telephone Harassment?
Don’t Talk To The PoliceIf you are accused of telephone harassment the police are going to want to “get your side of the story.” Don’t fall for this. The police have no intention of finding evidence to show that you did nothing wrong. They are trying to get you to admit to a technical violation of the law. You will never regret keeping your mouth shut. The problem with keeping your mouth shut when accused of telephone harassment is that until you find yourself charged with telephone harassment, you probably didn’t even know that there was a law against telephone harassment in the first place. Most people’s natural inclination is to explain yourself when the police show up at your door. Especially when they don’t think they have done anything against the law. The officer will ask if you called the person or sent them a picture or text and you will say sure but I didn’t mean to harass them or bother them. Well in that one statement you just helped them prove one of the elements of their case, you just admitted to sending the message. Now all they must do is prove jurisdiction and that you had the intent to harass. The more you talk the easier you make it on them to convict you.
Don’t Voluntarily Let The Police Look At Your PhoneIf the police accuse you of anything always keep your mouth shut. Likewise, if the police want to search your telephone, email, facebook, twitter or any other form of communication, just say no. Unless the officer has a warrant the police officer has no right to search your property. If an officer threatens you with obtaining a warrant, tell them to go get one. Search warrants can be more difficult to receive than you may believe. If you authorize or let an officer look at your phone you are giving consent and waiving your fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Just say no, don’t make an officer’s job of convicting you any easier.
Don’t Call, Text, Email Or Communicate At All With The Alleged VictimCommunicating with this person is what got you in trouble in the first place. You can be assured if you continue to communicate with someone after you have been charged with telephone harassment things are going to escalate. Often the next step will be to file a protection from abuse or protection from stalking case against you in the district court. If someone attempts to obtain one of these “restraining orders” against you, you’ll be fighting two cases at once. Even if the alleged victim doesn’t go that route, all they must do is call the police and tell them you are continuing to contact them and you’ll end up with another telephone harassment case.
Don’t Talk With Anyone Other Than A Lawyer About Your CaseYou have the right to remain silent. Use it. If you confide in someone the details of your case and that person isn’t a lawyer, you are hurting your case. If the prosecution finds out that someone else has details of your criminal conduct they can force that person to come into court and make them testify about the information that you told them. The last thing you want is a “friend” or acquaintance coming into court to testify about you confessing to a crime.
Talk To A Criminal Defense Lawyer As Soon As PossibleIf you are charged with telephone harassment talk to a criminal defense lawyer. Many times, telephone harassment charges are able to be successfully defended. There are common jurisdictional problems with many telephone harassment cases; there are oftentimes problems with proving the requisite intent; and many times the content of messages sent do not rise to harassment when put in the correct context. In short, with the requisite knowledge and skill many telephone harassment cases can be won.
If you do not have a defensible case or are unwilling to defend the case your attorney can negotiate on your behalf to try to mitigate the damages. Often times a respected criminal defense lawyer can work out something with a prosecutor to avoid a conviction on your record and keep you out of jail.
Don’t Miss CourtNever miss court. If you miss court a judge may issue a warrant for your arrest and revoke your bond. The last thing you want to do is spend the pendency of your case in custody because you missed court and project an image of disrespect to the court that may be deciding your fate.
Listen To Your LawyerYour lawyer is a professional, you hired him or her for a reason. Your lawyer should have experience with the court, judge and the prosecutor that is working on your case. If you don’t listen to your lawyer you will only make things worse on yourself. Inversely if you follow your lawyer’s advice and counsel your case will go a lot easier and you will receive a better outcome.