How To File Harassment Charges For Texting

This article discusses how to file charges for harassment if someone is sending unwanted text messages.

If you are being harassed by someone through text messages, there are steps you can take to file charges. If you still have questions at the end of this article, please talk to an attorney.

What is the meaning of text harassment?

In previous articles, we’ve touched on what harassment means in the criminal context. In a criminal case, to bring charges you either have to be a complaining victim, the police, or the prosecutor. Otherwise, you have no meaningful role in the actual brining of harassment charges. More details on how criminal cases work are in the next section.

Text messaging technologies such as phones, and computers allow a perpetrator to communicate with a victim (the recipient) harmful messages. The relationship of the perpetrator and the victim often varies from case to case, and it can be anything from a work relationship, or business relationship to a personal relationship or family relationship.

How does a criminal case work?

When you are first harassed, whether by text message, in person, verbally, or by phone, you will first notify the police (law enforcement) and file a police report. If the harassment rises to the level of criminal conduct, the police will ask if you want to be a complaining victim. If you agree, the police or local law enforcement will take your statement and deliver it to the district attorney’s office.

The district attorney’s office will then review the facts and circumstances of the case and decide whether based upon the evidence they believe the case can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. In the case of a felony, as a complaining victim you will likely be required to appear at a grand jury proceeding. If the grand jury returns a true bill, the felony indictment will be filed with the court and the case will proceed to criminal arraignment against the perpetrator who is now known as the defendant.

If the case is a misdemeanor, no grand jury is required, and the case will proceed directly to arraignment.

Your role as a victim of harassment in the criminal case depends on the stage of the criminal proceeding. For instance, at arraignment the court will take up the issue of whether or not the defendant will continue to be released on their own recognizance or if they should be reduced to custody. At this time the victim in most states, has a right to be heard on the issue of release and to provide a victim statement where they can relay to the court their experiences and concerns if the defendant is released. If the case involves harassment by text messaging it is likely that the court would order the defendant to have no contact with the victim while the case is pending.

In another criminal stage the defendant may, by and through their criminal defense attorney, file a motion to suppress certain evidence. If a motion such as this is filed it is likely that the State through the prosecuting attorney will call you as a witness in the suppression hearing to provide evidence to the court so that the judge can decide based on the facts and the law whether or not the motion to suppress should be granted.

In another criminal stage of proceeding, the case in chief, the criminal action will be heard in front of the judge; and the jury will act as the fact finder. At this stage the victim will testify in front of the jury. The jury will decide based on your testimony and the other evidence presented whether or not the case rises to the level to be criminal conduct which satisfies the elements of text messaging harassment and that the defendant should be convicted. If the defendant is convicted as a victim you would have a right to be heard at the sentencing phase which would occur in front of the judge after the jury verdict of guilty is rendered. You would have an opportunity to speak and be heard about how the crime impacted you and address the court as to what you believe the sentence should be.

These are the brief criminal stages, and a real criminal case may have more steps than this. If you are the victim of a text messaging harassment, you should either contact the prosecuting attorney, or victim’s rights office, or hire your own attorney to help you through the complexities of the criminal case.

How many texts are considered harassment

There are two types of harassment cases as discussed earlier. There is a civil harassment remedy under civil laws and practices. And, criminal harassment in which a person would face a criminal penalty if convicted. Under both civil and criminal text messaging harassment almost every state and instance requires repeated text messaging. Unless the conduct is extremely severe one text message is not enough. Under limited circumstances it’s possible depending on the state and the conduct for one text message to be enough but that is the rare exception.

How to report and stop harassing text messages

There are different ways to report harassing text messages depending one the nature of the text messages, who is sending them and what they say. You can report criminal harassment to the police or local law enforcement. They may have a form for you to fill out. If harassment is caused by a threatening co-worker, you can report them to human resources, or a manager. If the harassment is caused by threatening landlord or business, you can report the harassment to an attorney or take your account of the facts to the Better Business Bureau. You should also keep a record of the text messages to document the harassment.

To stop harassment you can take the following, please see the next section which is a Text Messaging Harassment Protection guide.

Harassment Protection Guide

Living in the world generally requires people to have thick skin. Not every interaction, even if rude, or boorish automatically rises to the level of harassing text messages, whether in the civil or criminal context.

Technology is a gift and a curse. It makes us more connected to friends calling our cell for wanted contact, and at the same time, too connected when it comes to unwanted communications. Certainly, we’ve all experienced scam phone calls claiming our Social Security number is comprised, or our car’s warranty is out of service and no longer valid. This article is not about these types of phone calls, but instead, the calls that rise to level of making the victim feel unsafe, ashamed, afraid, embarrassed, and annoyed.

Most of the following steps are free ways to create records or take specific steps to stop a harasser and address abusive behavior. As a general guide for protecting yourself against text messaging harassment, we recommend taking the following steps if you are the victim of text message harassment, or think you might be:

1) Keep a record of the texts and related data. Do not delete them.

2) Identify the sender and their address if possible. If the number is blocked, try to use a reverse phone look-up service online to find out who owns the number.

3) Do not respond to the texts.

4) Block the sender’s number if possible.

5) Contact your cellphone carrier and ask them what steps they can take to block future texts from that number.

6) If you have an iPhone, you can download an app like Call blocker & SMS blocker which will help stop future texts and calls from coming through.

7) If you are being harassed by someone you know, you can contact the police and file a report.

8) If you are being harassed by a stranger, you can contact the National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center for additional information and resources.

9) You can also contact your state attorney general’s office to find out what laws exist in your state regarding text message harassment.

10) In some states, like California, there are also specific laws against “cyberstalking” which may cover text message harassment.

11) If you work for a company that has been targeted by text message harassment, you should also contact your human resources department at the company to make them aware of the situation and see if they have a form for records to account for harasser behavior.

12) Finally, if you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

If you are the victim of text message harassment, it is important to take action to stop the harassment and protect yourself. The steps outlined above can help you do that. You should also consider contacting an attorney in your area to discuss your legal options and whether you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the person who is harassing you.

How can I report harassing text messages to police?

Each specific jurisdiction could have different methods for how law enforcement takes reports or an account of harasser behavior for different crimes, including what information the law enforcement official puts on their form, such as records of an address or company the harasser works for all of which the officer may put in their folder. In many cities, there may be an online form and submission processes. This form may be useful to you in the future for organizing your records/data and folder of events. In smaller cities, an officer will come to you to take a statement. If you are unsure, you can always call either 911 (if you are in immediate danger) or call the non-emergency police line to make a report. If you are unsure, talk to the local police first and ask them for guidance.

Tell me the best way to stop a person from texting?

Based upon this question, you have told the perpetrator to stop sending harassing text messages and they have not stopped. So, standing up to them and saying “NO” has not been effective. There are two fundamental ways to make a harasser stop messaging you at this point. A criminal penalty, or a financial penalty. A criminal penalty could include jail time, a fine, community service, counseling, or all of the above. A financial penalty is usually the result of a civil case where you’ve won a damages award.

Another possibility is obtaining an order of protection. More on that option in the next section.

What is an order of protection?

There are various forms of no contact orders and they vary from state to state based on your specific jurisdiction and law. If you have questions about an order of protection or any related form, please talk to an attorney.

Many orders of protection arise under the Family Abuse Protection Act or “FAPA”. A FAPA is a civil order that is designed to protect family or household members from abusive behavior based on the victim’s account of what happened. The term “family or household members” includes spouses, former spouses, parents, children, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as a family or have resided together in the past as a family, and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.

In order to obtain a FAPA order, you must first file a petition with the court. The court will then set a hearing date. At the hearing, both you and the abuser will have an opportunity to present evidence and testimony. After considering all of the evidence, the judge will decide whether or not to issue the FAPA order.

If the judge decides to issue the order, it will contain specific provisions that the abuser must follow. These provisions could include:

-No contact with you or your family

-No communication with you by any means (including phone, text, email, etc.)

-Not to come within a certain distance of your home, work, or school

-Not to possess firearms

-To surrender firearms that he or she already possesses

The order will also list a date for another court hearing. This hearing is typically held within 14 days of the issuance of the order and is designed to give both parties an opportunity to appear before the court and explain why the order should or should not be made permanent to prevent abusive behavior from continuing.

If you are the victim of text message harassment, it is important to take action to stop the harassment and protect yourself. The steps outlined above can help you do that. You should also consider contacting an attorney in your area to discuss your legal options and whether you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the person who is harassing you.

Examples of Harassing via Text messages

Examples of harassing text messages vary, but using your imagination, it is not difficult to think of examples. For instance, if someone repeatedly sends you messages that are threatening or obscene, that would be considered harassment via texting. If someone texts you repeatedly in an attempt to annoy or harass you, that would also be considered harassment. And if someone texts you as part of a campaign of stalking or cyberbullying, that would also be considered harassment.

Another example of text harassment or harassing text messages are what is known as “spoofing”. Spoofing is when someone sends you a text message that appears to be from someone else. For instance, they may use a fake name or number. Or they may pose as a friend or acquaintance. The purpose of spoofing is to trick you into thinking the message is from someone you know, when it is actually from the person who is harassing you.

Another type of text harassment or harassing text messages are where you receive repeated unwanted sexual advances. In this example, the harasser is making lewd and suggestive comments or requests for sexual activity. This type of harassment can be especially upsetting and difficult to deal with.

The bottom line is that if someone is sending you text messages that are making you feel uncomfortable, scared, or threatened, they may be engaging in harassing behavior and you should take steps to protect yourself.

Is there a way for police to stop text harassment?

Yes, there is a way to stop text harassment. Whether through an order of protection, a no contact order from the court, or confiscation of the perpetrators electronic devices or putting the perpetrator in custody. All of these are ways for the police to stop a person from sending you harassing text messages. In order for the the police to be able to intervene, you will need to provide them with evidence of the harassment. This can include screenshots of the texts, copies of any voicemails, or recordings of any phone calls or records of the harasser calling your cell. You should also keep a records of the times, dates, data, and frequency of the harassment.

It is important to remember that even if you go to the police and they do not take action to stop the harassing texts, it does not mean that the person will be criminally charged or that they will go to jail. The decision to press charges is up to the prosecutor, not the police. However, if you have evidence of the harassment, it may make it more likely that charges will be filed.

Collect all the evidence

If you want to stop someone from harassing you, you will need more evidence than your word alone. There are different ways for you to save unwanted messages, for instance you can convert Iphone text messages to a PDF that is easy to send to law enforcement through and app called iMazing. Android phone users can use an app to convert text messages to PDF using Droid transfer. Other ways to document the harassment include taking screenshots of the messages to your phone number, making copies of any voicemails, or recording phone calls. You should also keep a record of the times, dates, and frequency of the harassment.

If you have been the victim of text message harassment, it is important to take action to stop the harassment and protect yourself. The steps outlined above can help you do that. You should also consider contacting an attorney in your area to discuss your legal options and whether you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the person who is harassing you.

Ask for a Restraining Order to Stop Texting Harassment

People often wonder if restraining orders will stop harassing phone calls. The short answer is that yes, a restraining order can be an effective tool, especially considering that once in place, the police can arrest the perpetrator for violations of the court’s order.

One of the benefits of a restraining order is that it can help establish a paper trail documenting the harassment to your phone number. This documentation may be important if you decide to pursue criminal charges or a civil lawsuit against the harasser.

Another benefit of a restraining order is that it can give you a sense of relief and safety, knowing that there is a court order in place telling the person to stay away from you and refrain from contacting you.

If you are considering asking for a restraining order, you should contact an attorney in your area to discuss your legal options. An attorney can also help you file for a restraining order and represent you in court.

How do I file a harassment complaint for texting?

The first requirement will be to show that harassment has happened. As mentioned, it will depend on whether you are planning to file a criminal harassment charge or a civil harassment charge for how you are going to actually “file” the charge. If the case is criminal, you will need to file a criminal report with the police. If the case is civil, you will likely need to file a petition or complaint with the court.

You will also be required to show evidence of the harassment. This can include screenshots of text messages, copies of any voicemails, or recordings of phone calls. You should also keep a record of the times, dates, and frequency of the harassment.

It is important to remember that even if the police do take action to stop the harassment, it does not mean that the person will be criminally charged or that they will go to jail. The decision to press charges is up to the prosecutor, not the police. However, if you have evidence of the harassment, it may make it more likely that charges will be filed.

Go to the Police Department

Assuming you know where the harasser lives, you should be able to contact police in the area they live in and not yours, if they are different. When you talk to the police, it’s important to try an remain calm, polite, concise and firm.

You will want to explain to the police that you are being harassed by someone and that you would like to file a formal complaint. The police may ask you questions about the harassment, such as how often it occurs, what types of things are said, whether there have been any threats made, etc.

It is important to be as specific as possible when answering these questions. The more information you can give the police, the better.

The police may also ask you for evidence of the harassment. This can include screenshots of text messages, copies of any voicemails, or recordings of phone calls. You should also keep a record of the times, dates, and frequency of the harassment.

Texting Harassment Laws

It’s recommended to use the law to stop harassment. Whether the message is somewhat mild or uncomfortable, you are should be protected from the sender. Most states have legislation that prohibits disturbing text messages, the rules may vary on the next steps to stop the harassment from continuing. Go to the police station and make contact to find out the laws in your area.

How efficient is blocking?

Most every smart phone has a call blocking feature at this point. Call blocking will block the number and prohibit the number from calling through to your phone. Be aware, it’s at this point that the harasser may spoof their call, or use another medium to attempt to contact you. If the harassment is online, you can also block the person on social media or other websites.

If you want to take more action against text message harassment, it’s worth contacting your phone carrier and asking about their call blocking services to block the number and stop unwanted contact. Many cell phone providers offer call blocking for an additional monthly fee. You should contact your phone carrier to determine options and pricing.

You can also change your phone number to stop text message harassment. This will usually stop the harassment, as the person will no longer have your new phone number. However, this can be a hassle, as you will need to give your new number to all of your contacts.

Should I change my number?

This may seem like an extreme solution, but if you’re receiving harassing texts on your cell phone, it may be worth considering changing your number. This will stop the harasser from being able to contact you directly, and it may give you some peace of mind.

Before you make the decision to change your number, consider whether there are other people who you need to be able to contact you, such as family or friends. You will also need to update your number with any companies or organizations that you do business with.

If you decide to change your number, be sure to keep your old phone and SIM card until you are sure that the harassment has stopped. This way, if you need to provide evidence of the harassment to the police, you will still have access to it.

Make an Index

An index is a filing system the easily allows the court (judge) to look through your various documents and messages in a quick and easy way. Each file or folder will have matching labels and an index. One folder may have specific records of harasser details like their address, facebook page, and related data. One folder may have records of safety action plans you took. The index will also allow police or investigators easy access to the files without having to dig through mountains of paperwork. This is something you will want to consider if you are going to pursue a restraining order or any legal action.

Make a matching copy for yourself

Whenever you are turning over documents and reports to the police station as a crime, make sure you keep a copy of the file for yourself. This will help you keep track of what was turned over. It will also help you keep organized if you need to refer back to the documents at a later date. It’s also important if your case moves from being a criminal case to being a civil case, so that you have the documents to file in court.

Be persistent

If the harassment doesn’t stop after you’ve taken steps to block the person and you’ve filed a crime police report, don’t give up. Harassers often increase their behavior when victims try to take action, but if you keep up the pressure, they will eventually move on to someone else ensuring your safety.

Compile all evidence

Organization is the key to helping law enforcement, the courts and your attorney filter through all of the unwanted communication from your harasser. Most evidence collection has little cost or is free, especially simple things like collecting facebook data and data related to a file folder on your cell phone.

Keep all evidence in one place, whether it’s on your phone, in a physical folder or both. This will help you keep track of what’s happening, and it will make it easier for others to understand the situation if they need to.

For example, label everything. As you’re compiling evidence, be sure to label everything with the date and time it was received. This will help create a timeline of events, which can be helpful in proving your case and tracking messages.

Save everything. Even if you think a text message or email isn’t important, save it anyway. Usually, there is no additional cost to save it in a separate folder (it’s free), so long as your cell phone still has the space. You never know what piece of evidence will be the key to proving your case.

What is considered a Harassing Text message?

The question of what is considered a harassing message (crime) is a matter of what content the messages contains. A message (or messages) is/are considered harassing if it contains any of the following example:

-Threats of physical violence/domestic violence

-Sexual content or threats/sexual harassment

-Racial slurs or hate speech

-Stalking or repeated unwanted contact

-Cyberbullying (Facebook)

If you receive any of these types of messages, it is important to save them and report them to the police.

Tell me the punishment for text harassment?

The punishment will depend on the criminal severity in your state. Some state felonies carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. In some states, text harassment may be a fine only.

Punishment also depends on the relationship between you and the offender. If you are in a domestic relationship with the offender, the penalties will be more severe than if the offender is a stranger.

It is important to seek legal counsel to determine what penalties you may be facing in your area to stop harassing texts.

What does not count as text message harassment?

If you have told the person to stop harassing texts to you and they stop, it’s likely not harassment. Different messages have different levels of communication severity, for instance, a message might be anxious, but not overtly threatening. In these cases, a court may not find that the texts meet the legal definition of harassment.

Is it enough to tell the user to stop texting you?

Certainly an unintentional text that you receive and tell the person to stop harassing you that would not be considered harassment. If, however, the text messages are unwanted and you have asked the person to stop sending them and they continue, it could be considered harassment.

Conclusion

If you are the victim of text message harassment, it is important to take action to protect yourself. The first step is to document and save all evidence of the harassment. Once you have done this, you can report the harassment to the police and seek legal counsel to discuss your options and next steps. Thank you for reading this article.