Most of the time when people are charged with the crime of telephone harassment they didn’t realize the crime even existed. Most people have no idea that some simple miscues on the telephone could cause them to be arrested, ticketed or thrown into jail. There are many laws in Kansas against telephone harassment and depending on the city in which the conduct takes place you may be subject to a different standard. We will look at the Kansas State law and a local city ordinance in Lenexa.

The Kansas State Law:

  • Harassment by telecommunication device is the use of:
    1. A telecommunications device to:
      • Knowingly make or transmit any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image or text which is obscene, lewd, lascivious or indecent;
      • make or transmit a call, whether or not conversation ensues, with intent to abuse, threaten or harass any person at the receiving end
      • make or transmit any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image or text with intent to abuse, threaten or harass any person at the receiving end;
      • make or cause a telecommunications device to repeatedly ring or activate with intent to harass any person at the receiving end;
      • knowingly play any recording on a telephone, except recordings such as weather information or sports information when the number thereof is dialed, unless the person or group playing the recording shall be identified and state that it is a recording; or
      • knowingly permit any telecommunications device under one’s control to be used in violation of this paragraph.
    1. Telefacsimile communication to send or transmit such communication to a court in the state of Kansas for a use other than court business, with no requirement of culpable mental state.
  • Harassment by telecommunication device is a class A nonperson misdemeanor.
  • Every telephone directory published for distribution to members of the general public shall contain a notice setting forth a summary of the provisions of this section. Such notice shall be printed in type which is no smaller than any other type on the same page and shall be preceded by the word “WARNING.”
  • As used in this section, ‘‘telecommunications device’’ includes telephones, cellular telephones, telefacsimile machines and any other electronic device which makes use of an electronic communication service, as defined in K.S.A. 22-2514, and amendments thereto.
  • An offender who violates the provisions of this section may also be prosecuted for, convicted of, and punished for any other offense in K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 21-550821-550921-5510 or 21-6401.

Lenexa Municipal Code:Harassment by electronic communication is the use of electronic communication for any of the following purposes:

  • Making or transmitting any comment, request, suggestion, image, text or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent; or
  • Initiating contact one or more times, whether or not conversation ensues, with the intent to abuse, threaten or harass any person.
  • Repealed by Ordinance No. 5031
  • Repealed by Ordinance No. 5031
  • Repealed by Ordinance No. 5031
  • Repealed by Ordinance No. 5031
  • As used in this Section, electronic communication means a transfer or signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, optical cable, electromagnetic, photo-electronic, photo-optical system, or other similar means whether digital or analog, including but not limited to:
    1. A communication using electronic mail, instant messaging, network call, internet-based communication, telephone, telefacsimile communication, or electronic text messaging; and
    2. A communication made to a pager.

Violation of this Section shall constitute a public offense and is punishable as set forth in Article 3-9-J of this Chapter.

Why Are There Two Different Laws On The Same Subject?There are actually far more than two laws on telephone harassment. Each city has the ability to regulate the conduct that occurs within its borders therefore each city has the ability to make their own particular ordinance when it comes to telephone harassment. Oftentimes cities will have a more stringent standard than the state law. If you look closely at these two laws you will see a few differences. The state law tends to focus more on telephone communications, however the city law has a broader scope including emails and other types of electronic communications not specifically cited in the state law.