For a Free Consultation
Annoying, Harassing and Obscene Phone Calls
Making harassing telephone calls is a crime under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 14A. To convict a defendant of this crime, the prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant repeatedly made telephone calls or caused calls to be made. “Repeatedly’ means three or more times.
- The defendant’s only purpose in making or causing the telephone calls to be made was to annoy, molest or harass the other person or the other person’s family. Even if a defendant’s repeated calls are annoying, they are not criminal unless his only purpose is harassment. All of the relevant circumstances, including the defendant’s acts or statements and the number, sequence or timing of calls, can be used to determine the defendant’s purpose.
It does not matter whether or not the telephone calls resulted in a conversation as long as they were made.
That law also proscribes making obscene telephone calls. To convict a defendant of making obscene telephone calls, the prosecutor must prove that:
- The defendant repeatedly made telephone calls. “Repeatedly” means three or more times. If the calls are anonymous, they can be linked to the defendant by circumstantial evidence including their timing, mode, content and similarity to the defendant’s conduct.
- The defendant used obscene or indecent language in those telephone calls. “Obscene” means appealing to an average citizen’s prurient interest, describing sexual conduct in a way that would offend an average citizen, and having no real artistic, literary, political or scientific value. Indecent means deeply offensive to current norms of decency. This element only requires that the defendant was generally aware of the nature of his language. It does not require that the defendant knew that his language was legally obscene or indecent.
The crime of making harassing or obscene telephone calls is punishable by a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment for up to three months, or both.Is the Crime of Making Annoying and Harassing Phone Calls a Basis for the Issuance of a Restraining Order in Massachusetts?
I get this question from perspective clients often. The simple answer to this question is no unless the content of the calls satisfies the requirements for the issuance of a restraining order. However, complaining witnesses often incorrectly believe that such phone calls serve as a basis for their request that a restraining order issue. They are wrong. The problem is that judges frequently issue restraining orders without regard for the applicable law. They find it easier to issue the order than not to, especially in instances where the accused in not represented by counsel. This is another example of where going into court without proper representation can be a big mistake.
Making harassing or obscene telephone calls is a serious charge, not only because of the potential punishments, but also because it may seriously damage your reputation. If you are charged with this offense, you should promptly retain the services of a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney. The Law Offices of Stephan Neyman, P.C. has more than twenty years experience fighting criminal charges in Massachusetts and throughout the country. Call our Law Office today for your initial consultation at 1-617-263-6800 or contact us online. Si usted habla espanol contacta nuestro asistente de abogado Maria Rivera en 617-877-6270.