Texting is a great way to quickly get in touch with someone and stay in touch. However, the convenience it offers can also make it a tool for harm in the wrong hands.
Unfortunately, some people use texting as a way to harass or stalk another person. According to one survey, 50 percent of people between the ages of 14 and 24 have been harassed or subjected to abusive behavior via text.
Under Texas law, a text doesn’t need to contain an outright threat to be considered a form of harassment. If the contact is repetitive and unwanted, it may rise to the level of harassment under Texas law.
If you’re the victim of a harassing text or texts that include stalking behavior, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself. Here are six tips to keep in mind when it comes to harassing text messages.
Save the Texts
Don’t delete the texts under any circumstance. You can take a screenshot from your phone, or contact your mobile provider to get the complete transcript of your texts. You can also take photos of the texts to preserve them on another device.
In some cases, it’s possible to download your text messages directly from your mobile provider. Some providers offer this option online by logging in to your account. You may also be able to order the complete transcripts online, and then your mobile provider will mail or email them to you.
These records can be invaluable in an investigation since text messages have a time stamp. If you preserve them in digital form, investigators can sometimes trace them further through data that is built into the text.
Gather as Much Evidence as You Can
When someone engages in harassing or stalking behavior, they often approach or harass the victim in a variety of ways. It’s important to document each incident as much as possible.
Start a journal of the harassing behavior. Be sure to write down the date and time of each incident, along with a description of what was said or done by the harasser. Make copies of everything, in case you need to give a copy to the police or investigators.
Doing this can help the police conduct an investigation down the road. It can also help document an escalation in the harasser’s behavior.
In most cases, it’s best not to reply to harassing texts. It may be tempting to respond with anger or frustration, but this could cause a volatile situation to escalate. No one deserves to be harassed or subjected to abuse. Leave it to law enforcement to investigate rather than trying to stop the harassment on your own.
If you share custody of a child with the person texting you, try communicating through their lawyer if they have one. If you have a lawyer, try working with them to obtain a court order that requires the other person to be civil when they communicate with you.
You can also try handling communication through email. Communicating this way makes it more difficult for the person to pepper you with replies. Texting is usually more of a live conversation, whereas email puts a little bit of distance between the parties.
Contact the Police
If you are being harassed or stalked via text, it’s important to gather as much evidence as you can and take it to the police. It’s usually best to have a printed record of the texts or messages, as it helps you avoid the need to turn your phone over to the police.
Speak with a Lawyer who Specializes in Criminal Law
You should also consider discussing your case with a Texas lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help explain your rights and answer any questions you may have about what steps to take next.
Protect Your Mobile Phone Number
Be careful about sharing your mobile phone number. Treat it like any other part of your identity. Avoid posting it online or sharing it on social media.
There are also services that allow you to obtain a temporary number for certain purposes. This can be a good alternative in cases where you don’t wish to share your private mobile number.
Is Cyberbullying a Crime in Texas?
Under Texas law, it’s a crime to bully someone using a computer, social media, the internet, or text messaging. Lawmakers and police take these cases very seriously, and the penalties for engaging in harassing or bullying texts can be serious.
In some cases, police departments aren’t always as technologically proficient as they need to be when it comes to investigating computer crimes. This is where an experienced Texas cybercrime lawyer can help.
This is why it’s important to take steps to protect yourself. You should keep a record of the texts, as well as documentation about when they occurred. This can give the police the roadmap they need to investigate the harassment and prevent it from happening against in the future.
If you’ve been charged with harassment or stalking, speak to a Dallas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Call of the Dallas Best Internet Crime Lawyers at Broden & Mickelsen, LLP in Dallas at (214) 720-9552 or you can schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.
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Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.