Receiving multiple phone calls can be a nuisance to anyone. However, making annoying phone calls can also lead to a charge under California Law—especially if these phones calls present some kind of threat or danger.
If you have received an annoying phone calls charge, Domestic Violence Attorney can help you. As one of the top-rated domestic violence defense firms in the Orange County area, we have a highly skilled and knowledgeable staff that is prepared to assist anyone who may be faced with this, or any similar, type of domestic violence charge.
Making annoying phones is a serious offense in California. As outlined under California Penal Code Section 652(m), a making annoying phone calls charge indicates that you have repeatedly contacted another person or address by telephone, or by any other electronic communications device, and have made a threat and/or used obscene and unwanted language. The person charged with this crime must have made repeated calls with the intent to harass or threaten the person of the other address, or anyone else in that household.
This charge can be applied to other electronic communication devices such as: telephones, cell phones, laptop or desk computers, video recorders, facsimile machines, tablets, pagers, PDAs, smartphones, or another device that can send and transfer messages from device to device.
Simply put, a making annoying phone calls charges means that you have:
By committing these actions, you may face a making annoying phone calls offense under California Law.
Making phones calls is a commonplace act and is something most people do every day. However, it can quickly become a serious offense if the calls come often and begin to harass the victim. These types of calls can be terrifying and present serious danger to anyone who receives them. If you have been charged with making annoying phone calls, then it is possible you have made annoying and harassing calls.
There are many different types of situations that can give rise to this kind of offense. If you made repeated annoying phone calls to another address, but they did not answer, you can still be charged. If the other address calls you back, and you continue to make threatening or obscene comments, you can still be charged. Even if you did not actually make the call or any other form of electronic communication yourself, but you did have control over the electronic device, they you can still be charged with making annoying phone calls.
More importantly, making “annoying phone calls” can also apply to other electronic communication devices. In a sense, this type of charge can be applied to more than just phone calls. As described by California Penal Code Section 653(m)(g), by making harassing and/or obscene comments through any type of electronic communications device, you may still face making annoying phone calls offense. This includes the use of telephones, cell phones, smartphones, text messages, social media, e-mail, and more. If you made repeated threatening and/or harassing comments audibly or textually through an electronic communication device, then you can be charged with making annoying phone calls as defined under California Law.
After having an intense fight with his friend, Michael continues to call and make threats on the phone.
Judith keeps receiving obscene and frightening messages on social media. The user behind the comments can be charged with making annoying calls.
Max’s friend, Sam, uses Max’s phone to make multiple obscene phone calls to a fellow classmate. Even though Sam made the phone call and the comment, Max is still liable since the phone was under his control.
These examples display characters who have made repeated obscene and/or annoying phone calls to another person through different means. All are considered to be implicit in serious crimes. These types of actions can lead to an annoying phone calls offense in California.
Even though a making annoying phone calls offense may seem like a small crime, there are still consequences you may face. Under California Penal Code Section 653(m), making annoying phone calls is a misdemeanor. This means you may face up to six (6) months in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.
However, the court may give a lighter punishment considering the seriousness of the act and the defendant’s small, or non-existent, criminal history. Considering the circumstances behind each case, the court may only grant informal probation or even a deferred sentence. The court may also suggest enrollment in a mandatory counseling program as one of the requirements of probation.
Again, the possible punishments include:
Along with a making phone calls offense, there are related offenses that you may be charged with as determined by the circumstances surrounding each case. Common related charges include: criminal threats, violating a restraining order, stalking, and cyberstalking.
A making annoying phone calls charge may come with a criminal threat charge if serious threats were made to the other person. Under PC Section 646.9, it is a crime to willfully follow and harass another person, and to make credible threats that may place the other person in serious harm. This also includes serious threats made to anyone in the other person’s family.
This can be related to a making annoying phone calls charge if you have made threats over the phone, or any other electronic communications device, to another person. A criminal threat charge can make the annoying phone calls more dangerous to the victim; thus, the punishment is more severe. Along with the penalties related to making phone calls, this charge can lead to up to one (1) year in county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. Again, the court will consider the circumstances and the defendant's criminal history to determine the severity of the charge. At most, you can be imprisoned in a state prison.
Often times, a person charged with making annoying and harassing phone calls has had some kind of pre-existing relationship with the other address. It is also possible that the person charged with making annoying calls may have had a restraining order from a previous incident with the victim. If so, by continually calling, the defendant may be found in violation of that restraining order and can be charged as such.
As outlined by PC Section 273.6, an intentional violation of a restraining or protective order is a misdemeanor. The penalties for such an offense include: one (1) year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. If the violation of the restraining order results in physical injury, then the defendant faces a fine of up to $2,000, a minimum 30-day to one (1) year in county jail, or both. However, these penalties can also be reduce depending on the circumstances of each case and on the defendant's criminal history.
Under PC Section 646.9(b), a continuance of stalking and harassing another person while a restraining order is in effect is a serious crime—this can include making annoying phone calls. This can lead to imprisonment in a state prison for up to two (2), three (3), or four (4) years as determined from the circumstances of each case.
Making annoying phone calls may also be found in connection with stalking or cyberstalking. As outlined by PC Section 646.9, stalking consists of willfully following and harassing another person while making credible threats to his or her safety. Cyberstalking consists of using an electronic communications device to commit the same kind of behavior. If you follow someone around and making obscene comments over the phone, or any other device, you can be charged with both stalking and making annoying phone calls. If you made repeated, harassing phone calls while stalking another person, then you can be charged with both making annoying phones calls and stalking.
Stalking, and cyberstalking, is a wobbler offense in the state of California. Depending on the circumstances surrounding each case and the defendant's previous criminal history, the offense can either be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. If the offense is a misdemeanor, the defendant potentially faces up to one (1) year in county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. If the offense is a felony, the defendant potentially faces a maximum penalty of up to five (5) years in California state prison.
Like any case presented in the court of law, the prosecutor needs to prove specific criteria in order convict the defendant of any charge. These elements include: making or permitting repeated phone calls or electronic communications, using obscene language or making threats, and having the intent to harass or annoy the victim.
First of all, in order to be convicted of making annoying phones calls, it needs to be proven that you have made repeated phone calls or another type of electronic communication. The most important part of this element is the use of a phone or any other electronic communication device. These annoying calls or messages need to have been made through an electronic device, or else you cannot be charged with making annoying phone calls in the state of California.
An electronic communication device includes: telephones, cell phones, computers, pagers, fax machines, tablets, and more. Communication made via text message, e-mail, letters by fax, photos sent from a smartphone, or messages through social media can all count as forms of making annoying phones calls if repeatedly made.
Remember: even if the victim called you back, you can still be convicted if you continued to harass or annoy the individual. Also, if you knowingly let another person use an electronic communications device under your control to make annoying calls, you can still be charged—even if it was not you that actually made the obscene or harassing comments.
Again, if you did not make repeated contact with another person via an electronic communications device, you cannot be convicted of making annoying phone calls due to a lack of the “phone call” element in the incident.
Another important element in making annoying phone call cases that must be proven is the use of obscene language, or the making of a threat through the phone calls. You can only be convicted of making annoying phone calls if you used obscene language or if you threatened to injury or place another person in danger.
Despite its importance in these type of cases, obscene language can be a little difficult to pin down exactly. Obscene language typically includes the usage of sexually graphic language. However, in California, obscene can also include language the victim finds “offensive” or inappropriate. This can also include the usage of profanity. It is important to know that what might be “obscene” in one case may not be “obscene” in another. The level of obscenity can shift depending on the context of the communications and/or the relationship between the caller and the receiver.
It can be a little tricky to exactly can be labeled as obscene; however, it is a crucial element in making annoying phone call cases.
Another crucial element in making phone call cases is whether the defendant intended to purposefully harass or annoy the victim. If you sent the messages or made the calls in good faith, or for some other purpose such as business, then you cannot be charged with making annoying phone calls. Again, this can come down to the circumstances and the context around which these calls were made. If the caller believed that he or she made these annoying calls in jest, then the caller cannot be charged.
There needs to be a clear intention to harass or annoy the victim in these types of cases. If not, you cannot be charged with making annoying calls.
As with any other type of offense, there are a couple defenses that can be used to potentially drop a making annoying phone calls charge. These can include: a lack of intent to annoy or harass, a lack of “obscene” language or threat, or an insanity defense.
Quite simply, if you made these calls in good faith and without the intent to annoy or harass, you cannot be charged. A making annoying phone calls charge can only arises if you intended to annoy or harass the other address.
Without the use obscene language, or a threat, in these calls, there is not sufficient evidence for a making annoying phone calls offense. More than this, you could argue that what you said through an electronic communications device was not actually obscene or offensive. It is possible the circumstances of the communication or the context contributed to a sense of harassment or annoyance to the receiver; however, the meaning of the phone call could have been mistaken by the receiver.
Lastly, if you suffer from mental or emotional trouble, it is possible this charge can be dropped.
With an insanity defense, the defendant cannot be convicted since he or she was unable to understand the actions taken at the time of the crime, and that he or she could not differentiate between right and wrong at the time of the offense.