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Los Angeles Harassing Phone Calls Attorney

In California, the Penal Code criminalizes harassing phone calls and/or emails.   Specifically, Penal Code section 653m prohibits people from annoying other persons through electronic communication (phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.) with either threats or obscene language.  Penal Code section 653m also prohibits people from annoying other persons through repeated contacts via phone calls, emails, text messages and other forms of electronic communication.

Actual Language of Penal Code Section 653m:

(a) Every person who, with intent to annoy, telephones or makes contact by means of an electronic communication device with another and addresses to or about the other person any obscene language or addresses to the other person any threat to inflict injury to the person or property of the person addressed or any member of his or her family, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Nothing in this subdivision shall apply to telephone calls or electronic contacts made in good faith.

(b) Every person who, with intent to annoy or harass, makes repeated telephone calls or makes repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device, or makes any combination of calls or contact, to another person is, whether or not conversation ensues from making the telephone call or contact by means of an electronic communication device, guilty of a misdemeanor. Nothing in this subdivision shall apply to telephone calls or electronic contacts made in good faith or during the ordinary course and scope of business.

Defenses to Penal Code section 653m

There are several defenses to this type of charge.  The three most common defenses are outlined below:

First, there must be proof that the defendant made the calls or emails.  Mere suspicion that the defendant initiated these contacts is not sufficient.  Fred Thiagarajah has successfully argued against the inclusion of phone records and has successfully attacked the foundation for emails.  By excluding these records from the evidence, there was no proof his clients made the calls or sent the emails.

Second, in order to be convicted of this charge, a defendant must act the intent to annoy.  If we can show that the defendant had a legitimate reason for contacting the other party, then there is no intent to annoy, and therefore no violation of Penal Code section 653m.

Third, not every type of unwanted contact constitutes harassment.  If there was no threat and no obscene language, then there is no violation of Penal Code section 653m(a).  “Repeated” contacts can be justified if done in good faith or during the course and scope of business.

Sentencing for Harassing Phone Calls / Emails

The maximum punishment for violating Penal Code section 653m is six months county jail.  However, if probation is granted, the judge has the discretion to order counseling as part of a defendant’s probation.

Other Harassing Email Consequences

Not only can a Penal Code 653m conviction lead to criminal penalties and a driving license suspension, but it can also have professional licensing and immigration consequences.  Many professions that require licensing from a state board, such as doctors,  nurses, lawyers, accountants, contractors, teachers, real estate agents and stock brokers, all require background checks.  A professional who has a Penal Code section 653m conviction on their record risks losing their professional license, or never acquiring it in the first place.  Perhaps the most severe impact of a harassing phone calls conviction involves immigration consequences.   Although harassing phone call convictions don’t usually have immigration consequences, there are some situations where a Penal Code section 653m conviction have drastic immigration consequences.  Non-citizens who are permanent residents, with a green card, or temporary visitors with a visa, can be denied admission or naturalization or even deported, under certain situations with a harassing emails conviction on their record.

The Right Lawyer

Choosing the right harassing phone calls or emails defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing criminal charges for violating Penal Code section 653m.  Many people who face harassment charges are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment.  There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of harassing phone calls, based on a misunderstanding or false evidence.  You need a harassing emails defense attorney who will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly, who will negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney’s office skillfully, and who will fight in trial aggressively.  You need The Law Offices of Fred Thiagarajah

As a former Deputy District Attorney, Fred Thiagarajah, and his team have the negotiating skills and trial experience necessary to get the best results for their clients.  For an example of their work, please see their case results and read their client testimonials.  With criminal defense offices in Newport Beach, Long Beach, Rancho Cucamonga, Murrieta and Riverside, Fred Thiagarajah and his team have Penal Code section 653m defense experience in Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County and Riverside County.

Fred Thiagarajah – The Right Lawyer.  The Right Result. 

Make The Right Choice.

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