Annoying Phone Calls - Penal Code §653m
The crime of "annoying phone calls" per California Penal Code §653m occurs when one makes a call, sends a text or email that is obscene, threatening or one of a series of repeated bothersome calls, texts or emails, intending to annoy or irritate the other party.
The prank calls of the 1970s and 1980s are stuff of the past. Today, annoying communications as described in Penal Code §653m can land you in the county jail.
However, the communication alone is not enough for a conviction. The calls or texts or emails must include offensive language or threats, or be intentionally repetitive in nature. Be cautions though, Courts are unclear about what obscene or offensive language is and isn’t exactly.
Penal Code §653m is a California misdemeanor and a conviction can result in up to six months in the county jail, a period of probation, and/or a fine of $1,000.00 plus assorted additional penalties and assessments.
Like any other misdemeanor, there may be a variety of defenses available depending on the facts and circumstances of the particular case.
Typically, the go to defense is lack of intent; that you did not actually intend to annoy or harass the other person. Perhaps there was a good faith mistake or some other purpose for the communication. The prosecutor must be able to prove to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, what you INTENDED when you sent the communications.
Another viable defense may be that the language itself was not, in fact, obscene. Obscenity is, after all, subjective.
Remember that any misdemeanor conviction can have long-lasting negative effects when it comes to employment background checks or professional licensure. Even when you know you have done nothing wrong, there may be many reasons to have an attorney who understand the law and the criminal justice system on your side.
If you or someone you care about in the Coachella valley has been accused, arrested or charged with a violation of Penal Code §653m, don’t wait! Call us at 760-610-6109 for a free consultation.