Making Annoying Phone Calls – California Penal Code 653m
Making annoying phone calls in described under California Penal Code Section 653m. This statute makes it a crime to make repeated or harassing phone calls, or phone calls that use obscene or threatening language. Many PC 653m criminal cases are related to domestic violence.
It should be noted one or two incidents of an annoying phone is not enough to support a charge under Penal Code 653m. There must be multiple phone calls, or repeated harassment, in order to face criminal charges.
It should also be noted annoying or harassing calls don’t always have to me made using a phone. PC 653m also covers sending obscene text messages, emails, or other types of electronic communication. Modern technology and caller ID provides evidence of making annoying phone calls.
An example of PC 653m making annoying or harassing phone calls includes a situation of where a couple is in the middle of a divorce and living in separate locations. One spouse is unhappy with current child custody arrangement, and they begin to make repeated threatening phone calls.
A most common method to prove an annoying phones case is the voice mails left by the caller. The amount and length of the phone calls, and the relationship between the victim and caller are crucial factors considered by a prosecutor on whether to file criminal charges.
To give readers useful information about the crime of PC 653m making annoying phone calls, our California criminal defense lawyers will outline the law below.
Definition of Penal Code 653m – Annoying Phone Calls
California Penal Code Section 653m defines making annoying or harassing phone calls:
Anyone who, with the intent to annoy, telephones or makes repeated contact with an electronic communication device with another person using obscene language, or with a threat to inflict injury to them, or their property, or members of their family, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
In order to convict you of penal Code 653m, the prosecutor has to prove you intentionally made the phone calls to annoy, or used obscene language, or you made a threat to inflict great bodily injury or death.
In a situation where you made threats to commit great bodily injury or death, the prosecutor could file Penal Code 422 criminal threats charges.
It’s crucial to note that a phone call, text message, email, or other communication has to be more than just annoying to be considered a crime. The calls will normally involve threats, obscene language, or the repeated harassing phone calls.
Obscene language doesn’t have to be sexual in nature to be considered obscene, rather it could include any language considered offensive, or that violates general standard of being appropriate, such as profanity.
Again, the relationship between the two parties is an important factor to determine if the language was obscene. The prosecutor must also be able to prove that you had intent to annoy or harass the victim when you made the phone calls.
In general, phone calls that are made for legitimate business reasons will not qualify as annoying telephone calls. The California crimes that are closely related to Penal Code 653m include:
Penal Code 422 – Criminal threats
Penal Code 646.9 – Stalking
Penal Code 273.6 – Violation of a restraining order
Penalties for Penal Code 653m Annoying Phone Calls
If convicted of PC 653m making annoying phone calls, it’s a misdemeanor crime that carries up to six months in a county jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both jail and a fine.
The judge has the discretion to suspend the sentence or just order misdemeanor probation, the judge could also order that you attend mandatory counseling.
As stated, Penal Code 422 criminal threats is a closely related charged to Penal Code 653m, making annoying phone calls. PC 422 is the more serious charge and will be filed in cases where you threaten great bodily injury or death, intended the communication as a threat, and caused the victim to fear for their own safety, or safety of their family.
PC 422 is a “wobbler,” which means the prosecutor has the discretion to file the case as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.
If convicted of criminal threats as a misdemeanor, you are facing the same penalties as PC 653m charges. However, if convicted of felony criminal threats, you are facing up to three years in a California state prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both.
Fighting PC 653m Annoying Phone Calls Charges
It should be noted the prosecutor carries the burden of proof in cases of PC 653m making annoying phone calls. If they are unable to prove the elements of the crime, you should be able to avoid a conviction.
If you are accused of making annoying or harassing phone calls, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys can use a range of strategies to fight the case.
Lack of intent to annoy or harass
Recall the elements of the crime above in an annoying phone call case. It must be proven you had intent to annoy or harass alleged victim. We might be able to make an argument that you never possessed such intent. Perhaps we could prove the calls were made in good faith, or they were business related.
Language not obscene
If the prosecutor is alleging you made annoying phone calls using obscene language, we might be able to make an argument that the language was not in fact obscene. You have a right to free speech and the court will need to determine what type of language was obscene.
We might be able to prove with evidence using phone and other records that you were not the person making the annoying phone calls. Perhaps we could prove you were falsely accused by someone with a perceived motive to cause you harm, such as revenge or jealously.
It’s important to note that the key element in a PC 653m making annoying or harassing phone call is intent. This must be proven to be convicted.
If you were charged with California Penal Code 653m making annoying or harassing phone calls, you should not make any statements to police or you risk making incriminating statements. Rather, contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review the details and legal options.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a team of highly experienced criminal defense lawyers with a track record of success. Our office is located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation at (424) 372-3112.