TDCAA TDCAA Community Criminal Harassment unconstitutional?
Among certain crowds, it is legend.
Fair enough. But it's no Caddyshack.
I don't know about anyone else - but how does this email harassment relate to facebook harassment? How does the nonthreatening remarks to the girl that ended up committing suicide come into play? The difference with face to face communication and email communication is that people usually are more guarded when coming face to face. The problem with email, etc communication is that you have no way to gauge the other person's response to the remarks. My belief is that the more we communicate without any human interaction the more likely we are to disregard other's feelings and how they might react. I believe that social interaction is a key to learning how to behave and act around other people. Seeing a person's response, and possibly other's reactions, to a remark face to face helps us learn what is acceptable. Email communication does not give the feedback necessary to understand what is socially responsible communication. I will get off my soapbox now.
Yeah, and it can be brutal in forums.
FYI, here's the commentary on this case from the TDCAA case summaries:
"This case was made even more difficult for the State because the offending emails were in Bulgarian, and there were disputes about the accuracy of some of the State's translation. Until the Legislature has had a chance to change this statute, or until a higher court changes this decision, I would not be able to confidently bring a prosecution under PC �42.07(a)(7). And I would not, at this point, expect a higher court to change this decision because it faithfully follows the controlling case law."
Pending a potential review on pdr/rehearing, anyone interested in seeking a legislative fix can contact me to get the ball rolling.
So, are we saying that the statute should be amended to require e-mails to be in English, so as to avoid the alarming and annoying sounds of, say, Bulgarian? If so, then why not also include some prohibitions on the use of Latin, of which certain posters on the website like to throw around? Et tu, Brumley?
Section 42.07(a)(7)(i) "Ix-nay on the Atin-lay."
If you think I'm annoying when I throw the Latin, amici, just wait 'til I brush you back with the Spanish slider then ring you up with the French change-up. Mon dieu!
I scoff at your statute, Mr. Ewell-Nay. Now, go away or I shall taunt you a second time.
Now, THIS is an electronic communication which is reasonably likely to annoy, is it not?
I've got to say--I've seen this coming for a while--in fact ever since the Bulgarians elected Georgi Parvanov as their president. His platform of "No Bulgarian Left Behind" placed an overwhelming focus on educating Bulgarian children in math, science, literature and language. Little attention, if any, was placed on e-mail and social website etiquette and now look what we have--Bulgarians run amok.
Before we continue this investigative thread, shouldn't someone be alerting the Bulgarian consulate?
Amici? Isn't that an Italian restaurant? I think that guy from Cocoon founded/opened it.
P.S.-We've still got 72 hours before we need to contact Bulgaria.
How about skipping all this debate about the content of an e-mail and, instead, focus on the repeated contact that someone doesn't want? With real property, we have the power to give a criminal trespass warning. For stalkers, there is a protective order. So, why not have some form of electronic notice that could be given to a suspect that provides fair warning that any electronic communication, regardless of the content, is prohibited?
Only as long as you PROMISE to lock up my local cable company and credit card company -- whom I have all told time and time again to STOP sending me emails! lol
Somebody coming onto your property is not the same as getting an unwanted email, for obvious reasons.
And you could not get a stalking comviction just because someone is following you around -- especially if they are doing it for a Constitutionally protected reason, such as bill collectors, worker's comp PIs, and those photographer guys who chase Brittany all over the place.
There is absolutely nothing stopping someone from coming to Whatever County, for example, and following around the DAs as they go from place to place, be it home, work, school, or otherwise, correct? (As long as no one is being threatened, that is.)
Lastly, in my opinion, it is the content of the emails in question that is important. If I send someone an email threatening to kill them or send an email with a bunch of sex stuff it in, that would be completely out of line and should be - and is - against the law as such communications have NO Constitutional protections. The COA specifically dealt with such an example in the opinion.
And, again, if you are not willing to lock up my local cable provider for harassing me with their unwanted emails then you should not lock anyone else up for their harassing emails.
That's my two cents. What do the rest of you think?? This is a very interesting topic and I hope that more people will contribute their thoughts and opinions.
I respectfully disagree RTC, they are not the same. The difference is in the intent of the harasser, and the affect on the harassee. It doesn't scare me to delete business-oriented unwanted e-mails, but some of these offenders that we deal with just want their ex-friend (we get a lot of female harassers) to know that they have their number, or know where they live, show control, etc. And there is no actual threat involved, but it's clear that it is an intimidation/fear attempt. Not the same with cable company--they aren't trying to scare me nor am I scared.
Now, that being said....the words "annoy" and "harass" are vague. The cable company does annoy me (by my definition, not in the above intimidation/fear way).
BUT the cable company should not be able to invade my personal space more than a normal citizen, just because they are trying to get my money, rather than intimidate me into undying love, etc.--However, I wouldn't say it ranks a jail-worthy misdemeanor.
A very good point, Suzanne. But the terms 'harass' and 'annoy' are different then 'threaten'. Threatening emails are not covered by this opinion.
In addition, with email, no one is forcing the alleged vic to click on it or open it up to see what it says.
When you or anyone else opens your email program you get a list of all the new messages and who they are from. You then select which ones you want to delete or send to the junk mail folder without even having to open up the message and reading it.
So if you get a message from an ex-, all you have to do is click to delete it or junk it.
I was wondering if you could explain why the complaintants would open up an email from an ex- in the first place? Why do they not just delete it and not read it? I am sure that question has been asked at some point. If they do open such an email, then would they not share some responsibility for what happens and what they read? That would seem to mitigate an alleged offense.
I don't read email from people / entities I do not like. These people should do the same.
I use an "Inbox Rule" in MS Outlook to automatically put mail from certain sources into my trash folder.
I tried to a jury last week a phone harassment--with a threat to "send someone to shoot up your house." The defendant's criminal history came in, and when he testified he admitted that if someone from prison had threatened him, he would take it very seriously.
I spent the majority of my 30 minute voir dire explaining why this is illegal (the threat to commit a physical or property damage) and attempt to explain how the intent goes with "to harass, annoy, alarm, embarass," yadda, yadda rather than intent to actually commit the threat.
Not guilty verdict! The jury said they thought he was capable, and maybe he even did do it, but they were not persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt!
So, I think my jury agreed with the court of appeals that the long list of words is too vague to make sense of when deliberating and then trying to figure out what level of doubt is reasonable. I've won cases with much less evidence and much nicer defendants......I don't think they liked the law.
And from some of their voir dire responses, I think they would have liked the law better if it particularly applicable to tele-marketers and creditors. They seemed more offended by that type of phone call than a threat...it was an interesting exercise, even if the outcome was not what my victim and I wanted.
Thank you for the update. That is a very interesting situation.
OK - all kidding aside, I need some help from you criminal gurus.
Facts - dating relationship goes sour. No cohab or anything like that. Post break up, he communicates by e-mail frequently (1:04 PM, 1:08 PM, 1:14 PM, 1:20 PM, 1:23 PM, 1:33 PM, 2:10PM. 2:22 PM, 2:40 PM, 3:09 PM, 3:38 PM, 4:14 PM, 5:52 PM - all on one day; other days have a similar pattern) There is nothing threatening in the words of the communications. In addition to this, there are text messages, letters, and flowers. Still - no threatening content, simply the aggrevation of not going away.
THe lady needs assistance. He has been "talked to" by law enforcement, agrees to leave her alone, then continues.
Lisa L. Peterson
Nolan County Attorney
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TDCAA TDCAA Community Criminal Harassment unconstitutional?
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