A recent story found that women who work for Uber, Doordash, and other “gig economy” apps face unusual levels of harassment. For example, passengers in Ubers seem to think it is okay to ask female drivers for sex. In fact, this is against the law.
Do you know how Texas law defines harassment?
If you don’t, you might not know when you can get help if someone is harassing you. You also might not realize when your own behavior would qualify as criminal harassment.
Harassment is defined in Texas Penal Code section 42.07.
“A person commits an offense if, with intent to harass, anoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another, the person (1) initiates communication and in the course of the communication makes a comment, request, suggestion, or proposal that is obscene; (2) threatens, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the threat, to inflict bodily injury on the person or to commit a felony against the person, a member of the person’s household, or the person’s property; (3) conveys, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the report, a false report, which is know by the conveyor to be false, that another person has suffered death or serious injury (4) causes the telephone of another to ring repeatedly or makes repeated telephone communications anonymously or in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another (5) makes a telephone call and intentionally fails to hang up or disengage the connection; (6) knowingly permits a telephone under the person’s control to be used by another to commit an offense under this section; or (7) sends repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.”
In short, if you contact someone to frighten, embarrass, annoy, or torment them, then you’re harassing them. This is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and up to a $2000 fine. If you’ve been convicted of harassment in the past it is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in county jail or fines of up to $4000.
If you add threats of violence to any of the above the crime becomes felony stalking instead.
These incidents have a habit of escalating into violence, which is why prosecutors take it seriously.
It is one of the crimes that must include an element of intent. If we as your attorneys can prove that you did not mean to upset the victim then we might be able to help you defend against a harassment charge. Yet the courts also consider whether a reasonable person would consider your behavior to be harassment.
In some cases, however, a plea bargain will be the better road, as prosecutors often have a long paper trail of emails, phone calls, and other communications to work with.
Any time someone asks you to stop talking to them it’s generally a good idea to do so if you want to avoid a harassment charge.
If you’re being accused of harassment, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We will work hard to defend your rights and will do our best to help you retain your freedom.
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