In late January, Collin County Sheriff deputies arrested a man reported to be the stepbrother of acclaimed Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Among the charges the man is facing is harassment by telephone, a violation of the Texas Penal Code, specifically §42.07.
Harassing Actions in Texas
In Texas, several actions considered to be “messing with people” can lead to prosecutors filing misdemeanor charges. These actions include:
- Sexual harassment
- Offensive gestures
- Making obscene proposals
- Repeated annoying behavior
- Maliciously alarming people
Punishments Related to Bothering Somebody in Texas
DiCaprio’s stepbrother will have to answer to Class B misdemeanor charges, which could result in a period of incarceration of up to six months in the Collin County jail. He could also be assessed with a fine of up to $2,000. Should he be convicted and later be found guilty of a similar offense, he could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor; in such case, he could spend up to a year in jail and could also face a fine no greater than $4,000.
Telephone Or Internet Harassment in Texas
Tormenting others or making obscene unwanted sexual advances over the telephone or on the Internet could also be considered criminal conduct in Houston. In fact, six of the seven factors that define harming others under the Texas Penal Code specifically mention the use of telephone or electronic communications.
Cases involving threats, annoyances and falsely alarming people are not so easily prosecuted. Criminal defense attorneys in Houston can take these cases to trial and ensure that the prosecution has a considerably high burden of proof when trying to convince jurors to return a guilty conviction.
When prosecutors obtain restraining orders against defendants who restrict them from reasonably carrying on with their lives, defense attorneys can challenge such orders to preserve their clients’ quality of life.