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J. Michael Price II
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Expanded Harassment Charges in Texas

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed many laws in 2021 that took effect on September 1st. Many of these laws or amendments affect criminal laws, including one that expands the charges for criminal harassment in Texas.

If you are facing criminal harassment charges, you should not wait to speak with a Plano criminal defense lawyer who can protect your rights.

SB 530

Senate Bill 530 effectively updated the criminal harassment statute, which allows for harassment charges to apply to social media interactions. Specifically, harassment now includes:

The exception to this offense is when the communications are a matter of public concern,

This type of harassment offense is now a Class B misdemeanor, and a conviction can mean up to 180 days in county jail and up to $2,000 in fines. If someone has a prior harassment conviction, or if the harassment involved a minor with the intention to cause serious harm or suicide to the minor, the charge can escalate to a Class A misdemeanor.

How Can the State Prove Online Harassment?

Today, many people engage in anonymous communications online, especially if the communications were harassing in nature. Identifying who someone is via their internet communications is the first hurdle in these cases, and it can lead to accusations against the wrong person.

Then, the prosecutor will need to show that the same individual engaged in multiple communications and that they did not come from different parties using the same username or account. Finally, the prosecutor has to prove that the so-called harasser had the intention to commit harassment, and proving intent is always difficult - especially regarding online activity.

Many statements can be misconstrued via text-based communications, and what the message sender thought meant one thing might be misinterpreted as harassment by someone else. This makes these types of cases fairly complicated and messy, and you want a defense attorney who knows how to present an aggressive defense against your charges.

When to Call a Defense Attorney

Often, police officers will be investigating possible harassment before they make any arrests. If the police ask to speak with you, try to seize and search your computer, or otherwise indicate that you are under investigation, you should not wait to contact a defense lawyer. A lawyer can help during the investigation - even before you are arrested - and this assistance might even prevent an arrest and charges.

If you have been charged with harassment, never think that it is a minor matter because it is a misdemeanor. This is a serious issue, and you want the right legal representation as soon as possible.

Seek Representation from a Plano, TX Harassment Defense Attorney

While online harassment can cause harm to victims, changing laws can result in wrongful criminal charges that can change your life. The law office of J. Michael Price II is ready to help, so please contact us today.