Florida Phone Harassment Laws

florida phone harassment chargesMost people would have trouble believing that placing a phone call can result in criminal charges; however, this happens regularly in Florida.  Yes, your cell phone is your private property and you do have the freedom to use it as you please, but when it is used to terrorize, harass, or otherwise inflict harm on others, it becomes a legal issue. Central Florida law enforcement officers aggressively prosecute those accused of placing harassing or obscene phone calls, and while it effectively penalizes violators, everyday people are often falsely accused of the crime, resulting in wrongful convictions.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges for making harassing or obscene phone calls, get in touch with a seasoned Orlando criminal defense lawyer at The Umansky Law Firm. We have helped many people just like you disprove claims brought against them for allegedly harassing a third party and we understand the scenarios can differ greatly. This area of law is one of the most nuanced, which means you’ll need a skilled attorney who can exploit gaps in the law. Reach out to us today so that we can start working to dismiss these destructive claims.

Charged With Placing Harassing or Obscene Phone Calls in Florida

Florida Statute § 365.16 defines the crime of placing harassing or obscene phone calls as whoever: 

“Makes a telephone call to a location at which the person receiving the call has a reasonable expectation of privacy; during such call makes any comment, request, suggestion, or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, vulgar, or indecent; and by such call or such language intends to offend, annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number.”

The statute goes on to identify three additional ways one can commit this crime:

  • Making a phone call without disclosing your identity (no matter if conversation ensues or not) with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass an individual 
  • Making or causing an individual’s phone to ring continuously with the intent to harass the individual
  • Making repeated calls (when a conversation ensues) solely to harass an individual

Individuals who do not actually place the calls can also face criminal prosecution, since allowing a phone that’s under your control to be used for the purpose of harassment is also illegal. 

Florida Criminal Penalties for Placing Harassing or Obscene Phone Calls

Placing harassing or obscene phone calls is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by:

  • Up to two months in jail
  • Up to two months probation
  • Up to $500 in fines

However, calls made in good faith or in the ordinary course of business or commerce are exempt from prosecution. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was passed in 1991 to protect individuals from unsolicited telemarketing communications, but even this legislation allows calls to be made regarding political causes, debt collection, charitable solicitation, and much more. 

This means that whether you’re a private citizen or a corporation, there’s legislation in place that protects you from criminal prosecution. Allow our team of passionate criminal defense lawyers to provide you with the representation you deserve.

Defending Those Facing Criminal Charges for Phone Call Harassment in FL

Certain language in the statute like “repeated” and “not disclosing identity” have been successfully refuted and helped clear the name of the accused. There are also many instances where individuals are falsely accused by a plaintiff who doesn’t actually know the source of the calls or is taking legal action out of spite. 

The team of Orlando criminal defense attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm can investigate the details of your case and implement the most applicable defense strategy to your case to help clear your name. Our diversely talented team includes Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyers and former state and local prosecutors who will make it their duty to ensure that your rights are upheld. Contact us today at 407-228-3838 for a free case evaluation.