Harassment is a problem that most people face at one time or another in life. Harassing messages can be merely annoying or frankly terrifying. If you have questions about how to report and stop harassing text messages, this post is for you.
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How to Report Harassing Text Messages to Law Enforcement
Harassment is defined under the law as “repeated or unwanted contact.”
Harassing contact may occur in any form: 1) person-to-person contact, 2) Internet contact, 3) phone contact, or 4) text message contact.
Texas harassment laws say that text messages don’t need to be specifically threatening to consider them harassing.
Harassing text messages may be spam-like or abusive. Regardless of the type of text message, the recipient of these messages has the right to take action.
If the text messages are annoying, you may be able to block the number of your mobile device. That might not prevent the harasser from texting from a new device, or by using burner numbers, but it’s worth a try.
Use these steps to report and stop harassing text messages.
Step 1: Save the Data
If possible, take a screenshot of the text message on your mobile device. If you can’t save a screen shot, use a camera to save images of the harassing data.
In addition, protect or lock the harassing message on your device. However, even if you successfully take this step, create backups to the actual text messages in the event you lose the device or it’s accidentally deleted in a system update.
Step 2: Request Your Mobile Device Records
Go to your mobile account and download your call records. If you have difficulty accessing your records, contact your mobile provider. You can also search for information online about how to retrieve your phone call records by the make and model of your mobile device.
Save and print out the call records that show the harassment you’re experiencing.
Highlight each call on the phone records to tally the number of harassing calls or text messages you’ve received.
Step #3. Compile the Evidence of Harassment
Organize the information in a way that makes it simple for a police officer to review. Creating a file folder may be helpful to make the review of evidence an easy task.
For instance, separate the data by type:
- Put images in one folder.
- Place the printouts of calls or text messages in a separate folder.
- Make a “proof” folder of the steps you’ve taken to stop the harassing text or phone messages. For example, add a screenshot of your explaining to the offender that he or she should “Stop harassing me!”
- Create a history of your contact with the harasser. Since a former romantic relationship, your current partner’s former relationship, coworker, friend, or juvenile prankster may be the harasser, compile information about the relationship gone wrong and/or your steps to end the relationship. Include any emails exchanged, messages on Facebook, or additional details that show what happened before the harassment.
This information should help police and investigators to review your complaint. You can’t be too thorough. Gather evidence to link what’s happening in a cohesive, understandable way.
Step #4. Create an Index
An index is one of the ways you can present the information. Lay out the data clearly and make sure it’s easy to read.
After you’ve sorted data into folders, label each according to its contents.
Then, index the materials so that detectives don’t have to think about what folder to find the information they need.
If you need to add explanations or notes to any of the information, prepare the note on an index card-sized piece of paper. Staple this explanatory note to the evidence you believe requires it. For instance, you might add a note about when the harasser began the pattern of harassment. The note could refer the reviewer to the appropriate folder.
When possible, add tabs to the folders so that the reviewer can easily retrieve the right one.
Step #5. Make Copies for Yourself
Before sharing the information about harassing text messages or other harassment data with the police, make identical copies for your file.
Law enforcement agents might not return your originals for weeks or months. If an investigator or detective needs to discuss the evidence, you’ll have no problem pulling out the matching folder copy and refer him or her to “Folder 1, page 6, paragraph 3.”
Step #6. Don’t Forget Your Contact Information
Make sure to add your contact information to each folder (and each page in the folder). Provide your name, phone number, address, email, or alternate contact information.
If you have additional details about the harasser, e.g. his or her nickname, alias, phone, or email, add this information in a separate folder. This data shouldn’t be included on the first page of a folder. Your information might be returned to the harasser by accident.
Step #7: Go to Local Law Enforcement
If you know the address of your harasser, go to the police station in his or her area.
Ask to meet with a detective at the police station. You may be asked by the officer at the front desk about your matter. Keep the response short and sweet.
Speak without emotion. Calling the harasser names or accusing him or her won’t improve the results.
Use keywords. You could say, “Mary Smith started to harass me by text messages on March 15, 20–. I asked her to stop at least four times. The harassment has continued and it’s become worse. I fear for my safety and for my family’s safety. I have the evidence of Mary Smith’s harassment for your review.
If a detective isn’t available, ask for the officer’s business card and request the detective’s card. Alternatively, write down their names and contact details.
If the harassment doesn’t accelerate in the meantime, wait several days and call the detective.
Cyber Bullying is a Crime
It’s important to understand that SMS or text harassment, cyber bulling, cybercrime or internet harassment is a crime. Some people use the internet or mobile networks to threaten or harass others.
When a crime occurs on a mobile network, some law enforcement agents lack the training about what to do next. After all, the mobile network or internet isn’t a specific jurisdiction.
If you’re being harassed by a telemarketer, collection agent, or anyone else by text message or phone, you can register your number of the “Do Not Call” list. Go to www.donotcall.gov to register online or call 1-888-382-1222 (1-866-290-4236 TYY) by phone. Call from the specific telephone number you want to register.
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After You Report Harassing Text Messages to Law Enforcement
A police detective usually decides the next steps. If the police believe that you’re being harassed, the city or state government will press charges if the prosecutor wishes to pursue the matter.
If a harasser sends threatening text messages about murdering you or bombing your car, criminal charges may be filed. However, you won’t file these charges. If the detective believes that nothing can be done about the harassment, your evidence may be returned to you. In that case, it’s up to you to strive for justice.
Harassment is increasingly common in today’s world. Realize that harassment isn’t your fault, but you must do everything possible to protect yourself from a threatening harasser.
If you don’t know the identity of the harasser, you could engage a private investigator or criminal lawyer. They may be able to identify the harasser—and that’s essential to getting a court order to stop the harasser in his or her tracks.
Stop Harassing Text Messages
If you contact your mobile carrier, you’ll probably be advised to file a police report first. This is necessary to get a subpoena (it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get the subpoena you request).
Police may fail to fully investigate your claim. If you know the carrier from the harasser is sending text messages, the carrier probably won’t reveal the identity of the sender without a subpoena.
Once you identify the harasser, you may consider lodging a civil complaint about him or her. You will need an experienced attorney to pursue the harasser through this means.
Contact an Experienced Texas Cybercrime Lawyer
If someone is harassing you by text message or any other means, and you’ve done everything recommended in this post with few results, call an experienced Texas cybercrime text message lawyer now.
If you’re facing harassment charges, know this is a serious criminal charge. You need the assistance of a knowledgeable Texas harassment lawyer as soon as possible.
Call The Law Office of Greg Tsioros in Houston at 832-752-5972 to schedule an initial case evaluation as soon as possible to protect yourself now.
Example: Getting 50 unwanted and upsetting text messages, emails and/or phone calls from the same person within a week for no reason. If someone has committed any of the above actions, you may have grounds to get a civil harassment restraining order.What is considered harassment in Alberta? ›
Besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the other person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries on business or happens to be; or. Engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or member of their family.Can the police do anything about harassing texts? ›
A person found guilty of text harassment may face only misdemeanor charges and minimal jail time if the harassment was minor. Individuals with a documented history of harassment or those already under a restraining order are likely to receive harsher judgments.What can the police do about harassing texts in California? ›
Brief Synopsis: Penal Code § 653m(a) and (b) makes it a crime to make annoying phone calls or send annoying texts. The penalties can range from probation with a protective order to up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine, plus penalties and assessments that can total up to $4,4250.What to do if someone is harassing you by text? ›
- 1 Tell them that they are harassing you.
- 2 Block their number.
- 3 Make your other social media private.
- 4 Take screenshots of all texts and other messages.
- 5 Collect other evidence of harassment.
- 6 Identify who is threatening you through your phone company.
- Sexual or offensive comments.
- Sending inappropriate texts, memos, or images that are sexual or crude in nature.
- Sexual innuendos in conversation.
- Unwarranted or unwelcome physical touch such as rubbing, touching, or hugging.
Proving harassment to secure a conviction
the defendant has pursued a course of conduct. the course of conduct amounted to harassment of another person. the defendant knew or ought to have known that the course of conduct amounted to harassment.
Harassment does not have to be threatening to be "harassing." It can take the form of abusive messages or text message "spam." Regardless of the situation, it is not legal nor justified and you have the right to take action. Here are the specific steps to take in order to report a case of text harassment.What is classed as harassment by text? ›
Repeatedly sending the same person unwanted text messages or other social media communications is a form of harassment pursuant to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.Can excessive texting be considered harassment? ›
In fact, the text messages or other unwanted communications do not have to be specifically threatening in any way to constitute harassment. So long as the contact is unwanted, the text messages qualify as harassment.
653.2 PC – Electronic Cyber Harassment Law in California. California Penal Code 653.2 PC makes it a crime to send electronic communications (such as emails or text messages) with the intent of placing the recipient in reasonable fear for his or her safety or that of his or her immediate family.What is psychological harassment? ›
Psychological harassment means any vexatious behaviour in the form of repeated and hostile or unwanted conduct, comments, actions or gestures that affects an individual's dignity or psychological or physical integrity and that results in a harmful work or learning environment for the individual.Can I sue for unwanted text messages? ›
If you are being bothered by unsolicited spam text messages, you can take legal action. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), you may be eligible for compensation of $500 to $1500 per unsolicited text, which can be trebled if the violation is knowing, willful, or intentional.What qualifies as a harassment charge in California? ›
The civil harassment laws say “harassment” is: Unlawful violence, like assault or battery or stalking, OR. A credible threat of violence, AND. The violence or threats seriously scare, annoy, or harass someone and there is no valid reason for it.How do I file a harassment complaint in California? ›
2. File a complaint with the DFEH
- online, by creating an account with the Cal Civil Rights System (CCRS),
- by mail, using a printable intake form, or.
- by calling the DFEH at 800-884-1684.
Reporting harassment to the police
You can report harassment to the police. They can charge someone with criminal harassment if: the person has harassed you more than once. the harassment made you feel distressed or alarmed.
So, it is critical that abusive text messages be taken seriously. Types of domestic abuse that can involve text messages include emotional and mental abuse (also known as psychological abuse). Generally, these text messages include abrasive language, swear words, and threats of violence, but not always.What happens when you report harassment to the police? ›
In cases of serious harassment, the police will visit your harasser and may then give them a verbal warning, issue a formal Harassment Notice or arrest and ask them to attend a police station for a formal police interview.What is the punishment for harassment? ›
(2) Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
A civil harassment restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from violence, stalking, serious harassment, or threats of violence. You can ask for a civil harassment restraining order if: A person has abused (or threatened to abuse), sexually assaulted, stalked, or seriously harassed you, and.