First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
Analysis
 
Telephone-harassment statutes

By Josh Tatum
First Amendment Center intern
08.18.08

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government have statutes that criminalize transmitting harassing communications via the telephone. Many states have separate sections that cover telephone harassment, but many others treat such harassment as a class of another crime, such as stalking or general harassment.

Telephone harassment is defined in many different ways. For example, while most states require some level of intent to harass or annoy, a few require only that the communication in fact harasses or that a reasonable person would expect it to harass.

This collection of telephone-harassment statutes is limited to a narrow category of harassing communications. These do not include other crimes that can be committed over the phone, including fraud, threats, violating a protective order, illegal telemarketing or eavesdropping. They also do not include any other legally significant words that can be binding over the phone, such as the formation of a contract. Further, any provisions that might create a civil action in response to harassing phone calls are not included.

Telephone harassment often includes the following actions: calling repeatedly, anonymously or at inconvenient hours; causing the phone to ring continuously; using obscene language; or failing to hang up the phone. It can also include falsely stating that a family member of the recipient is injured or dead, or threatening to injure the recipient or a family member.

People violating these laws may receive a prison sentence, a fine or both. Maximum fines for first offenses range from $250 to $2,500. Maximum prison sentences range from 30 days to one year. These sentences are sometimes increased when the offense is repeated or motivated by the victim’s race, gender, ethnicity, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation. These provisions are included only where they are listed in the telephone-harassment section itself. Further, where the statute only lists the class of crime, such as a class B misdemeanor, the statutory maximum sentence for that class is listed in brackets when available.

First Amendment issues sometimes arise involving telephone-harassment laws when the language of a statute is broad enough to be reasonably interpreted to cover protected speech. Nevertheless, most statutes use formal legal terms to describe communication the Supreme Court has permitted states to regulate, most commonly “obscene.” In light of the development of such jurisprudence, most states whose statutory language risked overbreadth have attempted to narrow them.

Alabama
Ala. Code § 13A-11-8. Harassment — Harassing communications.

    (a) Harassment. …
    (b) Harassing communications. --
      (1) A person commits the crime of harassing communications if, with intent to harass or alarm another person, he or she does any of the following:
        a. Communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, telegraph, mail, or any other form of written or electronic communication, in a manner likely to harass or cause alarm.
        b. Makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication.
        c. Telephones another person and addresses to or about such other person any lewd or obscene words or language.
        Nothing in this section shall apply to legitimate business telephone communications.
      (2) Harassing communications is a Class C misdemeanor [up to $500 fine, 3 months’ imprisonment or both].

Alaska
Alaska Stat. Sec. 11.61.120. Harassment in the second degree

    (a) A person commits the crime of harassment in the second degree if, with intent to harass or annoy another person, that person

      (2) telephones another and fails to terminate the connection with intent to impair the ability of that person to place or receive telephone calls;
      (3) makes repeated telephone calls at extremely inconvenient hours;
      (4) makes an anonymous or obscene telephone call, an obscene electronic communication, or a telephone call or electronic communication that threatens physical injury or sexual contact;

    (b) Harassment in the second degree is a class B misdemeanor [up to $2,000 fine or 90 days’ imprisonment].

Arizona
Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-2921. Harassment; classification; definition

    A. A person commits harassment if, with intent to harass or with knowledge that the person is harassing another person, the person:
      1. Anonymously or otherwise communicates or causes a communication with another person by verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic or written means in a manner that harasses.

      3. Repeatedly commits an act or acts that harass another person.

    C. Harassment under subsection A is a class 1 misdemeanor [up to $2,500 fine or six months’ imprisonment]…

    E. For purposes of this section, “harassment” means conduct directed at a specific person which would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed and the conduct in fact seriously alarms, annoys or harasses the person.

Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-2916. Use of telephone to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend; classification

    A. It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use a telephone and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person. It is also unlawful to otherwise disturb by repeated anonymous telephone calls the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person at the place where the telephone call or calls were received.
    B. Any offense committed by use of a telephone as set forth in this section is deemed to have been committed at either the place where the telephone call or calls originated or at the place where the telephone call or calls were received.
    C. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor [up to $2,500 fine or six months’ imprisonment].

Arkansas
A.C.A. § 5-71-209. Harassing communications.

    (a) A person commits the offense of harassing communications if, with the purpose to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, the person:
      (1) Communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, telegraph, mail, or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to harass, annoy, or cause alarm;
      (2) Makes a telephone call or causes a telephone to ring repeatedly, with no purpose of legitimate communication, regardless of whether a conversation ensues; or
      (3) Knowingly permits any telephone under his or her control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section.
    (b) An offense involving use of a telephone may be prosecuted in the county where the defendant was located when he or she used a telephone, or in the county where the telephone made to ring by the defendant was located.
    (c) Harassing communications is a Class A misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine or one year’s imprisonment].

California
Cal. Penal Code § 653m.

    (a) Every person who, with intent to annoy, telephones or makes contact by means of an electronic communication device with another and addresses to or about the other person any obscene language or addresses to the other person any threat to inflict injury to the person or property of the person addressed or any member of his or her family, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Nothing in this subdivision shall apply to telephone calls or electronic contacts made in good faith.
    (b) Every person who makes repeated telephone calls or makes repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device with intent to annoy another person at his or her residence, is, whether or not conversation ensues from making the telephone call or electronic contact, guilty of a misdemeanor. Nothing in this subdivision shall apply to telephone calls or electronic contacts made in good faith.
    (c) Every person who makes repeated telephone calls or makes repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device with the intent to annoy another person at his or her place of work is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. Nothing in this subdivision shall apply to telephone calls or electronic contacts made in good faith. This subdivision applies only if one or both of the following circumstances exist:
      (1) There is a temporary restraining order, an injunction, or any other court order, or any combination of these court orders, in effect prohibiting the behavior described in this section.
      (2) The person makes repeated telephone calls or makes repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device with the intent to annoy another person at his or her place of work, totaling more than 10 times in a 24-hour period, whether or not conversation ensues from making the telephone call or electronic contact, and the repeated telephone calls or electronic contacts are made to the workplace of an adult or fully emancipated minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the person has a child or has had a dating or engagement relationship or is having a dating or engagement relationship.
    (d) Any offense committed by use of a telephone may be deemed to have been committed where the telephone call or calls were made or received. Any offense committed by use of an electronic communication device or medium, including the Internet, may be deemed to have been committed when the electronic communication or communications were originally sent or first viewed by the recipient.
    (e) Subdivision (a), (b), or (c) is violated when the person acting with intent to annoy makes a telephone call requesting a return call and performs the acts prohibited under subdivision (a), (b), or (c) upon receiving the return call.
    (f) If probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of sentence is suspended, for any person convicted under this section, the court may order as a condition of probation that the person participate in counseling.
    (g) For purposes of this section, the term “electronic communication device” includes, but is not limited to, telephones, cellular phones, computers, video recorders, fax machines, or pagers.
    “Electronic communication” has the same meaning as the term defined in Subsection 12 of Section 2510 of Title 18 of the United States Code.

Colorado
C.R.S. 18-9-111. Harassment - stalking

    (1) A person commits harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he or she:

      (e) Initiates communication with a person, anonymously or otherwise by telephone, computer, computer network, or computer system in a manner intended to harass or threaten bodily injury or property damage, or makes any comment, request, suggestion, or proposal by telephone, computer, computer network, or computer system that is obscene; or
      (f) Makes a telephone call or causes a telephone to ring repeatedly, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate conversation; or
      (g) Makes repeated communications at inconvenient hours that invade the privacy of another and interfere in the use and enjoyment of another’s home or private residence or other private property; …

    (1.5) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, “obscene” means a patently offensive description of ultimate sexual acts or solicitation to commit ultimate sexual acts, whether or not said ultimate sexual acts are normal or perverted, actual or simulated, including masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, or excretory functions.
    (2) Harassment pursuant to subsection (1) of this section is a class 3 misdemeanor [up to $750 fine, six months’ imprisonment or both]; except that harassment is a class 1 misdemeanor [up to $5,000 fine, 18 months’ imprisonment or both] if the offender commits harassment pursuant to subsection (1) of this section with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin.

    (3) Any act prohibited by paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of this section may be deemed to have occurred or to have been committed at the place at which the telephone call, electronic mail, or other electronic communication was either made or received.

Connecticut
Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 53a-183. Harassment in the second degree: Class C misdemeanor.

    (a) A person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when: (1) By telephone, he addresses another in or uses indecent or obscene language; or (2) with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he communicates with a person by telegraph or mail, by electronically transmitting a facsimile through connection with a telephone network, by computer network, as defined in section 53a-250, or by any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or (3) with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm.
    (b) For purposes of this section such offense may be deemed to have been committed either at the place where the telephone call was made, or at the place where it was received.
    (c) The court may order any person convicted under this section to be examined by one or more psychiatrists.
    (d) Harassment in the second degree is a class C misdemeanor [up to $500 fine, three months’ imprisonment or both].

Delaware
11 Del. C. § 1311. Harassment; class B misdemeanor

    (a) A person is guilty of harassment when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person:

      (2) Communicates with a person by telephone, telegraph, mail or any other form of written or electronic communication in a manner which the person knows is likely to cause annoyance or alarm including, but not limited to, intrastate telephone calls initiated by vendors for the purpose of selling goods or services;
      (3) Knowingly permits any telephone under that person’s control to be used for a purpose prohibited by this section;
      (4) In the course of a telephone call that person uses obscene language or language suggesting that the recipient of the call engage with that person or another person in sexual relations of any sort, knowing that the person is thereby likely to cause annoyance or alarm to the recipient of the call; or
      (5) Makes repeated or anonymous telephone calls to another person whether or not conversation ensues, knowing that person is thereby likely to cause annoyance or alarm.
    (b) Harassment is a class B misdemeanor [up to $1,150 fine, six months’ imprisonment or other conditions deemed appropriate].

District of Columbia
D.C. Code § 22-404. Assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner; stalking [Formerly § 22-504]

    (b) Any person who on more than one occasion engages in conduct with the intent to cause emotional distress to another person or places another person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury by willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following or harassing that person, or who, without a legal purpose, willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person, is guilty of the crime of stalking and shall be fined not more than $500 or be imprisoned not more than 12 months, or both. Constitutionally protected activity, such as conduct by a party to a labor dispute in furtherance of labor or management objectives in that dispute, is not included within the meaning of this definition.

    (d) A second conviction occurring within 2 years of a first conviction for an offense under subsection (b) or (c) of this section, or for a similar offense under the law of any other jurisdiction, shall result in a fine of up to 1 ½ times the maximum fines authorized for the offenses in subsections (b) and (c) of this section and imprisonment for a term of up to 1 ½ times the maximum term of imprisonment authorized for the offense. If such person was previously convicted more than once of an offense described in subsection (b) or (c) of this section, such person may be subject to a fine of up to 3 times the maximum fines authorized for the offenses in subsections (b) and (c) of this section and imprisonment for a term of up to 3 times the maximum term of imprisonment authorized for each offense. No conviction with respect to which a person has been pardoned on the grounds of innocence shall be taken into account in applying this section.
    (e) For the purpose of this section, the term “harassing” means engaging in a course of conduct either in person, by telephone, or in writing, directed at a specific person, which seriously alarms, annoys, frightens, or torments the person, or engaging in a course of conduct either in person, by telephone, or in writing, which would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed, frightened, or tormented.

Florida
Fla. Stat. § 365.16. Obscene or harassing telephone calls

    (1) Whoever:
      (a) 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;
      (b) Makes a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, without disclosing his or her identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number;
      (c) Makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number; or
      (d) Makes repeated telephone calls, during which conversation ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 [up to 60 days’ imprisonment] or s. 775.083 [up to $500 fine].
    (2) Whoever knowingly permits any telephone under his or her control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
    (3) Each telephone directory hereafter published for distribution to the members of the general public shall contain a notice which explains this law; such notice shall be printed in type which is no smaller than the smallest type on the same page and shall be preceded by the word “warning.” The provisions of this section shall not apply to directories solely for business advertising purposes, commonly known as classified directories.
    (4) Each telephone company in this state shall cooperate with the law enforcement agencies of this state in using its facilities and personnel to detect and prevent violations of this section.
    (5) Nothing contained in this section shall apply to telephone calls made in good faith in the ordinary course of business or commerce.

Georgia
O.C.G.A. § 46-5-21. Using telephone communications for obscene, threatening, or harassing purposes

    (a) It shall be a misdemeanor for any person, by means of telephone communication in this state, to:
      (1) Make any comment, request, suggestion, or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent;
      (2) Make a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number;
      (3) Make or cause the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number; or
      (4) Make repeated telephone calls, during which conversation ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number.
    (b) Any person who knowingly permits any telephone under his control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine, 12 months’ imprisonment or both].

Guam
9 GCA § 61.20. Harassment; Defined & Punished.

    A person commits a petty misdemeanor [up to $500 fine or 60 days’ imprisonment] if, with intent to harass another, he:
      (a) makes, or causes to be made, a communication anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
      … or
      (c) engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person serving no legitimate purpose of the defendant.
      (d) Every person who with intent to annoy, telephones or telefaxes another and addresses to or about such other person any obscene language is guilty of a misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine or one year’s imprisonment].
      (e) Every person who makes a telephone call or telefax transmission with intent to annoy and without disclosing his true identity to the person answering the telephone or receiving the telefax transmission whether or not conversation ensues from making the telephone call, is guilty of a misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine or one year’s imprisonment].
      (f) Any offense committed by use of a telephone or telefax machine as set out in this section may be deemed to have been committed at either the place at which the telephone calls or telefax transmissions were made or received. In the event that a customer of a telephone service provider receives harassing telephone calls, such customer may file an injunction complaint under the name of John Doe, although the telephone service provider may release the name, address, and telephone number of the plaintiff to the Superior Court of Guam. The telephone service provider shall disconnect all telephone services to any subscriber who has violated the provisions of this section more than one (1) time.
      (g) Subsections (d) or (e) of this section are violated when the person acting with intent to annoy makes a telephone call or telefax transmission requesting a return call or return transmission and performs the acts prohibited under such subsections upon receiving the return call or transmission.

Hawaii
HRS § 711-1106. Harassment.

    (1) A person commits the offense of harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm any other person, that person:

      (c) Repeatedly makes telephone calls, facsimile, or electronic mail transmissions without purpose of legitimate communication;
      (d) Repeatedly makes a communication anonymously or at an extremely inconvenient hour;
      (e) Repeatedly makes communications, after being advised by the person to whom the communication is directed that further communication is unwelcome; or
      (f) Makes a communication using offensively coarse language that would cause the recipient to reasonably believe that the actor intends to cause bodily injury to the recipient or another or damage to the property of the recipient or another.

    (2) Harassment is a petty misdemeanor [up to $1,000 or 30 days’ imprisonment].

Idaho
Idaho Code § 18-6710. Use of telephone to annoy, terrify, threaten, intimidate, harass or offend by lewd or profane language, requests, suggestions or proposals — Threats of physical harm — Disturbing the peace by repeated calls — Penalties

    (1) Every person who, with intent to annoy, terrify, threaten, intimidate, harass or offend, telephones another and
      (a) addresses to or about such person any obscene, lewd or profane language, or makes any request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious or indecent; or
      (b) addresses to such other person any threat to inflict injury or physical harm to the person or property of the person addressed or any member of his family, or any other person; or
      (c) by repeated anonymous or identified telephone calls whether or not conversation ensues, disturbs the peace or attempts to disturb the peace, quiet, or right of privacy of any person at the place where the telephone call or calls are received, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to a term of not to exceed one (1) year in the county jail. Upon a second or subsequent conviction, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and shall be sentenced to a term of not to exceed five (5) years in the state penitentiary.
    (2) The use of obscene, lewd or profane language or the making of a threat or obscene proposal, or the making of repeated anonymous telephone calls as set forth in this section may be prima facie evidence of intent to annoy, terrify, threaten, intimidate, harass or offend.
    (3) For the purposes of this section, the term “telephone” shall mean any device which provides transmission of messages, signals, facsimiles, video images or other communication between persons who are physically separated from each other by means of telephone, telegraph, cable, wire or the projection of energy without physical connection.

Idaho Code § 18-6711. Use of telephone to terrify, intimidate, harass or annoy by false statements — Penalties

    (1) Every person who telephones another and knowingly makes any false statements concerning injury, death, disfigurement, indecent conduct or criminal conduct of the person telephoned or any member of his family, with intent to terrify, intimidate, harass or annoy the called person, is guilty of a misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine, six months’ imprisonment or both]. Upon a second or subsequent conviction of the violation of the provisions of this section, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony [up to $50,000 fine, five years’ imprisonment, or both].
    (2) The making of a false statement as herein set out may be prima facie evidence of intent to terrify, intimidate, harass or annoy.
    (3) For the purposes of this section, the term “telephone” shall mean any device which provides transmission of messages, signals, facsimiles, video images or other communication between persons who are physically separated from each other by means of telephone, telegraph, cable, wire or the projection of energy without physical connection.

Illinois
720 ILCS 135/1-1. Harassment by telephone

    Harassment by telephone is use of telephone communication for any of the following purposes:
      (1) Making any comment, request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent with an intent to offend; or
      (2) Making a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, with intent to abuse, threaten or harass any person at the called number; or
      (3) Making or causing the telephone of another repeatedly to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number; or
      (4) Making repeated telephone calls, during which conversation ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number; or
      (4.1) Making a telephone call or knowingly inducing a person to make a telephone call for the purpose of harassing another person who is under 13 years of age, regardless of whether the person under 13 years of age consents to the harassment, if the defendant is at least 16 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense; or
      (5) Knowingly permitting any telephone under one’s control to be used for any of the purposes mentioned herein.
      Every telephone directory published for distribution to members of the general public shall contain a notice setting forth a summary of the provisions of this Section. Such notice shall be printed in type which is no smaller than any other type on the same page and shall be preceded by the word “WARNING.” All telephone companies in this State shall cooperate with law enforcement agencies in using their facilities and personnel to detect and prevent violations of this Act.

720 ILCS 135/2. Sentence


    Sec. 2. Sentence. (a) ... [A] person who violates any of the provisions of Section … 1-1… of this Act … is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. ... [A] second or subsequent violation of Section … 1-1… of this Act … is a Class A misdemeanor, for which the court shall impose a minimum of 14 days in jail or, if public or community service is established in the county in which the offender was convicted, 240 hours of public or community service. …

Indiana
Ind. Code § 35-45-2-2. Harassment; “obscene message” defined.

    (a) A person who, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person but with no intent of legitimate communication:
      (1) makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues;
      (2) communicates with a person by telegraph, mail, or other form of written communication;
      (3) transmits an obscene message, or indecent or profane words, on a Citizens Radio Service channel; or
      (4) uses a computer network (as defined in IC 35-43-2-3(a)) or other form of electronic communication to:
        (A) communicate with a person; or
        (B) transmit an obscene message or indecent or profane words to a person;
    commits harassment, a Class B misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine, 180 days’ imprisonment or both].
    (b) A message is obscene if:
      (1) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the dominant theme of the message, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex;
      (2) the message refers to sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and
      (3) the message, taken as a whole, lacks serious artistic, literary, political, or scientific value.

Iowa
Iowa Code § 708.7. Harassment.

    1. a. A person commits harassment when, with intent to intimidate, annoy, or alarm another person, the person does any of the following:
      (1) Communicates with another by telephone, telegraph, writing, or via electronic communication without legitimate purpose and in a manner likely to cause the other person annoyance or harm.

      (3) Orders merchandise or services in the name of another, or to be delivered to another, without the other person’s knowledge or consent.

    4. Any other act of harassment is harassment in the third degree. Harassment in the third degree is a simple misdemeanor [$65 to $625 fine, up to 30 days’ imprisonment or both].

Kansas
K.S.A. § 21-4113. Harassment by telephone.

    (a) Harassment by telephone is use of telephone communication for any of the following purposes:
      (1) Making or transmitting any comment, request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent;
      (2) making a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, or transmitting a telefacsimile communication with intent to abuse, threaten or harass any person at the called number;
      (3) making or causing the telephone of another repeatedly to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number;
      (4) making repeated telephone calls, during which conversation ensues, or repeatedly transmitting a telefacsimile communication solely to harass any person at the called number;
      (5) playing any recording on a telephone, except recordings such as weather information or sports information when the number thereof is dialed, unless the person or group playing the recording shall be identified and state that it is a recording; or
      (6) knowingly permitting any telephone or telefacsimile communication machine under one’s control to be used for any of the purposes mentioned herein.
    (b) Every telephone directory published for distribution to members of the general public shall contain a notice setting forth a summary of the provisions of this section. Such notice shall be printed in type which is no smaller than any other type on the same page and shall be preceded by the word “WARNING.”
    (c) Harassment by telephone is a class A nonperson misdemeanor [up to $2,500 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both].
    (d) As used in this section, “telephone communication” shall include telefacsimile communication which is the use of electronic equipment to send or transmit a copy of a document via telephone lines.

Kentucky
KRS § 525.080. Harassing communications.

    (1) A person is guilty of harassing communications when with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person he:
      (a) Communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication in a manner which causes annoyance or alarm and serves no purpose of legitimate communication; or
      (b) Makes a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication.
    (2) Harassing communications is a Class B misdemeanor [up to $250 fine, 90 days’ imprisonment or both].

Louisiana
La. R.S. 14:285. Telephone communications; improper language; harassment; penalty.

    A. No person shall:
      (1) Engage in or institute a telephone call, telephone conversation, or telephone conference, with another person, anonymously or otherwise, and therein use obscene, profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent language, or make any suggestion or proposal of an obscene nature or threaten any illegal or immoral act with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass another person.
      (2) Make repeated telephone communications anonymously or otherwise in a manner reasonably expected to annoy, abuse, torment, harass, embarrass, or offend another, whether or not conversation ensues.
      (3) Make a telephone call and intentionally fail to hang up or disengage the connection.
      (4) Engage in a telephone call, conference, or recorded communication by using obscene language, when by making a graphic description of a sexual act, and the offender knows or reasonably should know that such obscene or graphic language is directed to, or will be heard by, a minor. Lack of knowledge of age shall not constitute a defense.
      (5) Knowingly permit any telephone under his control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this Section.
    B. Any offense committed by use of a telephone as set forth in this Section shall be deemed to have been committed at either the place where the telephone call or calls originated or at the place where the telephone call or calls were received.
    C. Whoever violates the provisions of this Section shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.
    D. Upon second or subsequent offenses, the offender shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned with or without hard labor for not more than two years, or both.

Maine
17-A M.R.S. § 506. Harassment by telephone

    1. A person is guilty of harassment by telephone if:
      A. By means of telephone he makes any comment, request, suggestion or proposal which is, in fact, offensively coarse or obscene, without the consent of the person called;
      B. He makes a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person at the called number;
      C. He makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number;
      D. He makes repeated telephone calls, during which conversation ensues, with the intent to harass any person at the called number; or
      E. He knowingly permits any telephone under his control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section.
    2. The crime defined in this section may be prosecuted and punished in the county in which the defendant was located when he used the telephone, or in the county in which the telephone called or made to ring by the defendant was located.
    3. Harassment by telephone is a Class E crime [up to $1,000 fine, six months’ imprisonment or both].

Maryland
Md. CRIMINAL LAW Code Ann. 3-804. Misuse of telephone facilities and equipment.

    (a) Prohibited. - A person may not use telephone facilities or equipment to make:
      (1) an anonymous call that is reasonably expected to annoy, abuse, torment, harass, or embarrass another;
      (2) repeated calls with the intent to annoy, abuse, torment, harass, or embarrass another; or
      (3) a comment, request, suggestion, or proposal that is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent.
    (b) Penalty.- A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $500 or both.

Massachusetts
ALM GL ch. 265 § 43A. Criminal Harassment.

    (a) Whoever willfully and maliciously engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person, which seriously alarms that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, shall be guilty of the crime of criminal harassment and shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and one-half years or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Such conduct or acts described in this paragraph shall include, but not be limited to, conduct or acts conducted by mail or by use of a telephonic or telecommunication device including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications or facsimile communications.
    (b) Whoever, after having been convicted of the crime of criminal harassment, commits a second or subsequent such crime, or whoever commits the crime of criminal harassment having previously been convicted of a violation of section 43, shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and one-half years or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than ten years.

Michigan
MCL § 750.540e. Malicious use of service provided by telecommunications service provider.

    Sec. 540e.
      (1) A person is guilty of a misdemeanor who maliciously uses any service provided by a telecommunications service provider with intent to terrorize, frighten, intimidate, threaten, harass, molest, or annoy another person, or to disturb the peace and quiet of another person by any of the following:
        (a) Threatening physical harm or damage to any person or property in the course of a conversation or message through the use of a telecommunications service or device.
        (b) Falsely and deliberately reporting by message through the use of a telecommunications service or device that a person has been injured, has suddenly taken ill, has suffered death, or has been the victim of a crime or an accident.
        (c) Deliberately refusing or failing to disengage a connection between a telecommunications device and another telecommunications device or between a telecommunications device and other equipment provided for the transmission of messages through the use of a telecommunications service or device.
        (d) Using vulgar, indecent, obscene, or offensive language or suggesting any lewd or lascivious act in the course of a conversation or message through the use of a telecommunications service or device.
        (e) Repeatedly initiating a telephone call and, without speaking, deliberately hanging up or breaking the telephone connection as or after the telephone call is answered.
        (f) Making an unsolicited commercial telephone call that is received between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. For the purpose of this subdivision, “an unsolicited commercial telephone call” means a call made by a person or recording device, on behalf of a person, corporation, or other entity, soliciting business or contributions.
        (g) Deliberately engaging or causing to engage the use of a telecommunications service or device of another person in a repetitive manner that causes interruption in telecommunications service or prevents the person from utilizing his or her telecommunications service or device.
      (2) A person violating this section may be imprisoned for not more than 6 months or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both. An offense is committed under this section if the communication either originates or terminates in this state and may be prosecuted at the place of origination or termination.
      (3) As used in this section, “telecommunications,” “telecommunications service,” and “telecommunications device” mean those terms as defined in section 540c.

Minnesota
Minn. Stat. § 609.749 HARASSMENT; STALKING; PENALTIES.

    Subdivision 1. Definition. As used in this section, “harass” means to engage in intentional
    conduct which:
      (1) the actor knows or has reason to know would cause the victim under the circumstances to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated; and
      (2) causes this reaction on the part of the victim.
    Subd. 1a. No proof of specific intent required. In a prosecution under this section, the state is not required to prove that the actor intended to cause the victim to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated, or except as otherwise provided in subdivision 3, paragraph (a), clause (4), or paragraph (b), that the actor intended to cause any other result.
    Subd. 2. Harassment and stalking crimes.
      (a) A person who harasses another by committing any of the following acts is guilty of a gross misdemeanor [up to $3,000, one year’s imprisonment or both]:

        (4) repeatedly makes telephone calls, or induces a victim to make telephone calls to the actor, whether or not conversation ensues;
        (5) makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring;
        (6) repeatedly mails or delivers or causes the delivery by any means, including electronically, of letters, telegrams, messages, packages, or other objects; …

      (b) The conduct described in paragraph (a), clauses (4) and (5), may be prosecuted at the place where any call is either made or received or, additionally in the case of wireless or electronic communication, where the actor or victim resides. The conduct described in paragraph (a), clause (2), may be prosecuted where the actor or victim resides. The conduct described in paragraph (a), clause (6), may be prosecuted where any letter, telegram, message, package, or other object is either sent or received or, additionally in the case of wireless or electronic communication, where the actor or victim resides. …

Mississippi
Miss. Code § 97-29-45. Obscene electronic communications.

    (1) It shall be unlawful for any person or persons:
      (a) To make any comment, request, suggestion or proposal by means of telecommunication or electronic communication which is obscene, lewd or lascivious with intent to abuse, threaten or harass any party to a telephone conversation, telecommunication or electronic communication;
      (b) To make a telecommunication or electronic communication with intent to terrify, intimidate or harass, and threaten to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or to his property;
      (c) To make a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person at the called number;
      (d) To make or cause the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number;
      (e) To make repeated telephone calls, during which conversation ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number; or
      (f) Knowingly to permit a computer or a telephone of any type under his control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section.
    (2) Upon conviction of any person for the first offense of violating subsection (1) of this section, such person shall be fined not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than six (6) months, or both.
    (3) Upon conviction of any person for the second offense of violating subsection (1) of this section, the offenses being committed within a period of five (5) years, such person shall be fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than one (1) year, or both.
    (4) For any third or subsequent conviction of any person violating subsection (1) of this section, the offenses being committed within a period of five (5) years, such person shall be guilty of a felony and fined not more than Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) and/or imprisoned in the State Penitentiary for not more than two (2) years, or both.
    (5) The provisions of this section do not apply to a person or persons who make a telephone call that would be covered by the provisions of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USCS Section 1692 et seq.
    (6) Any person violating this section may be prosecuted in the county where the telephone call, conversation or language originates in case such call, conversation or language originates in the State of Mississippi. In case the call, conversation or language originates outside of the State of Mississippi then such person shall be prosecuted in the county to which it is transmitted.
    (7) For the purposes of this section, telecommunication and electronic communication mean and include any type of telephonic, electronic or radio communications, or transmission of signs, signals, data, writings, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by telephone, including cellular telephones, wire, cable, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photo-optical system or the creation, display, management, storage, processing, transmission or distribution of images, text, voice, video or data by wire, cable or wireless means, including the Internet.
    (8) No person shall be held to have violated this section solely for providing access or connection to telecommunications or electronic communications services where the services do not include the creation of the content of the communication. Companies organized to do business as commercial broadcast radio stations, television stations, telecommunications service providers, Internet service providers, cable service providers or news organizations shall not be criminally liable under this section.

Missouri
565.090 R.S.Mo. Harassment.

    1. A person commits the crime of harassment if for the purpose of frightening or disturbing another person, he
      (1) Communicates in writing or by telephone a threat to commit any felony; or
      (2) Makes a telephone call or communicates in writing and uses coarse language offensive to one of average sensibility; or
      (3) Makes a telephone call anonymously; or
      (4) Makes repeated telephone calls.
    2. Harassment is a class A misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine or one year’s imprisonment].

Montana
Mont. Code § 45-8-213. Privacy in communications.

    (1) Except as provided in 69-6-104, a person commits the offense of violating privacy in communications if the person knowingly or purposely:
      (a) with the purpose to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend, communicates with a person by electronic communication and uses obscene, lewd, or profane language, suggests a lewd or lascivious act, or threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to the person or property of the person. The use of obscene, lewd, or profane language or the making of a threat or lewd or lascivious suggestions is prima facie evidence of an intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend.
      (b) uses an electronic communication to attempt to extort money or any other thing of value from a person or to disturb by repeated communications the peace, quiet, or right of privacy of a person at the place where the communications are received;
      (c) records or causes to be recorded a conversation by use of a hidden electronic or mechanical device that reproduces a human conversation without the knowledge of all parties to the conversation. This subsection (1)(c) does not apply to:
        (i) elected or appointed public officials or to public employees when the transcription or recording is done in the performance of official duty;
        (ii) persons speaking at public meetings;
        (iii) persons given warning of the transcription or recording, and if one person provides the warning, either party may record; or
        (iv) a health care facility, as defined in 50-5-101, or a government agency that deals with health care if the recording is of a health care emergency telephone communication made to the facility or agency.
    (2) Except as provided in 69-6-104, a person commits the offense of violating privacy in communications if the person purposely intercepts an electronic communication. This subsection does not apply to elected or appointed public officials or to public employees when the interception is done in the performance of official duty or to persons given warning of the interception.
    (3)
      (a) A person convicted of the offense of violating privacy in communications shall be fined an amount not to exceed $500 or be imprisoned in the county jail for a term not to exceed 6 months, or both.
      (b) On a second conviction of subsection (1)(a) or (1)(b), a person shall be imprisoned in the county jail for a term not to exceed 1 year or be fined an amount not to exceed $1,000, or both.
      (c) On a third or subsequent conviction of subsection (1)(a) or (1)(b), a person shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term not to exceed 5 years or be fined an amount not to exceed $10,000, or both.
    (4) “Electronic communication” means any transfer between persons of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system.

Nebraska
R.R.S. Neb. § 28-1310. Intimidation by telephone call; penalty; prima facie evidence.

    (1) A person commits the offense of intimidation by telephone call if, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend, the person:
      (a) Telephones another anonymously, whether or not conversation ensues, and disturbs the peace, quiet, and right of privacy of any person at the place where the calls are received; or
      (b) Telephones another and uses indecent, lewd, lascivious, or obscene language or suggests any indecent, lewd, or lascivious act; or
      (c) Telephones another and threatens to inflict injury to any person or to the property of any person; or
      (d) Intentionally fails to disengage the connection; or
      (e) Telephones another and attempts to extort money or other thing of value from any person.
    (2) The use of indecent, lewd, or obscene language or the making of a threat or lewd suggestion shall be prima facie evidence of intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend.
    (3) The offense shall be deemed to have been committed either at the place where the call was made or where it was received.
    (4) Intimidation by telephone call is a Class III misdemeanor [up to $500 fine, three months’ imprisonment or both].

Nevada
Nev. Rev. Stat. §201.255. Obscene, Threatening or Annoying Telephone Calls, Penalties.

    1. Any person who willfully makes a telephone call and addresses any obscene language, representation or suggestion to or about any person receiving such call or addresses to such other person any threat to inflict injury to the person or property of the person addressed or any member of his family is guilty of a misdemeanor.
    2. Every person who makes a telephone call with intent to annoy another is, whether or not conversation ensues from making the telephone call, guilty of a misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine, six months’ imprisonment or both, or 200 hours community service].
    3. Any violation of subsections 1 and 2 is committed at the place at which the telephone call or calls were made and at the place where the telephone call or calls were received, and may be prosecuted at either place.

New Hampshire
N.H. Rev. Stat. § 644:4. Harassment.

    I. A person is guilty of a misdemeanor [up to $2,000 fine or one year’s imprisonment], and subject to prosecution in the jurisdiction where the communication originated or was received, if such person:
      (a) Makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no legitimate communicative purpose or without disclosing his or her identity and with a purpose to annoy, abuse, threaten, or alarm another; or
      (b) Makes repeated communications at extremely inconvenient hours or in offensively coarse language with a purpose to annoy or alarm another; or
      (c) Insults, taunts, or challenges another in a manner likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response; or
      (d) Knowingly communicates any matter of a character tending to incite murder, assault, or arson; or
      (e) With the purpose to annoy or alarm another, communicates any matter containing any threat to kidnap any person or to commit a violation of RSA 633:4; or a threat to the life or safety of another; or
      (f) With the purpose to annoy or alarm another, having been previously notified that the recipient does not desire further communication, communicates with such person, when the communication is not for a lawful purpose or constitutionally protected.
    II. As used in paragraph I, “communicates” means to impart a message by any method of transmission, including but not limited to telephoning or personally delivering or sending or having delivered any information or material by written or printed note or letter, package, mail, courier service or electronic transmission, including electronic transmissions generated or communicated via a computer. For purposes of this section, “computer” means a programmable, electronic device capable of accepting and processing data.
    III. In any complaint or information brought for the enforcement of RSA 644:4, I(f), it shall not be necessary for the state to negate any exception, excuse, proviso, or exemption contained therein and the burden of proof of any exception, excuse, proviso, or exemption shall be upon the defendant.

New Jersey
N.J. Stat. § 2C:33-4. Harassment

    Except as provided in subsection e., a person commits a petty disorderly persons offense [up to $500 or 30 days’ imprisonment] if, with purpose to harass another, he:
      a. Makes, or causes to be made, a communication or communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
      b. Subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or
      c. Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.
      A communication under subsection a. may be deemed to have been made either at the place where it originated or at the place where it was received.

New Mexico
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-20-12. Use of telephone to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend; penalty

    A. It shall be unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to telephone another and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd, criminal or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict injury or physical harm to the person or property of any person. It shall also be unlawful for any person to attempt by telephone to extort money or other thing of value from any other person, or to otherwise disturb by repeated anonymous telephone calls the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any other person at the place where the telephone call or calls were received, or to maliciously make a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, with intent to annoy or disturb another, or to disrupt the telecommunications of another.
    B. The use of obscene, lewd or profane language or the making of a threat or statement as set forth in Subsection A shall be prima facie evidence of intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend.
    C. Any offense committed by use of a telephone as set forth in this section shall be deemed to have been committed at either the place where the telephone call or calls originated or at the place where the telephone call or calls were received.
    D. Whosoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both], unless such person has previously been convicted of such offense or of an offense under the laws of another state or of the United States which would have been an offense under this section if committed in this state, in which case such person is guilty of a fourth degree felony [up to 18 months’ imprisonment and $5,000 fine].

New York
NY CLS Penal § 240.30. Aggravated harassment in the second degree.

    A person is guilty of aggravated harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she:
      1. Either
        (a) communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or
        (b) causes a communication to be initiated by mechanical or electronic means or otherwise with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or
      2. Makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication; or
      3. Strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise subjects another person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same because of a belief or perception regarding such person’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct; or
      4. Commits the crime of harassment in the first degree and has previously been convicted of the crime of harassment in the first degree as defined by section 240.25 of this article within the preceding ten years.
    Aggravated harassment in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine or one year’s imprisonment].

North Carolina
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-196. Using profane, indecent or threatening language to any person over telephone; annoying or harassing by repeated telephoning or making false statements over telephone

    (a) It shall be unlawful for any person:
      (1) To use in telephonic communications any words or language of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious or indecent character, nature or connotation;
      (2) To use in telephonic communications any words or language threatening to inflict bodily harm to any person or to that person’s child, sibling, spouse, or dependent or physical injury to the property of any person, or for the purpose of extorting money or other things of value from any person;
      (3) To telephone another repeatedly, whether or not conversation ensues, for the purpose of abusing, annoying, threatening, terrifying, harassing or embarrassing any person at the called number;
      (4) To make a telephone call and fail to hang up or disengage the connection with the intent to disrupt the service of another;
      (5) To telephone another and to knowingly make any false statement concerning death, injury, illness, disfigurement, indecent conduct or criminal conduct of the person telephoned or of any member of his family or household with the intent to abuse, annoy, threaten, terrify, harass, or embarrass;
      (6) To knowingly permit any telephone under his control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section.
    (b) Any of the above offenses may be deemed to have been committed at either the place at which the telephone call or calls were made or at the place where the telephone call or calls were received. For purposes of this section, the term “telephonic communications” shall include communications made or received by way of a telephone answering machine or recorder, telefacsimile machine, or computer modem.
    (c) Anyone violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor [up to 30 days’ imprisonment and $1,000 fine].

North Dakota
N.D. Cent. Code 12.1-17-07. Harassment.

    1. A person is guilty of an offense if, with intent to frighten or harass another, the person:
      a. Communicates in writing or by telephone a threat to inflict injury on any person, to any person’s reputation, or to any property;
      b. Makes a telephone call anonymously or in offensively coarse language;
      c. Makes repeated telephone calls, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication; or
      d. Communicates a falsehood in writing or by telephone and causes mental anguish.
    2. The offense is a class A misdemeanor [up to $2,000 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both] if it is under subdivision a of subsection 1 or subsection 4. Otherwise it is a class B misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine, 30 days’ imprisonment or both].
    3. Any offense defined herein and committed by use of a telephone may be deemed to have been committed at either the place at which the telephone call or calls were made or at the place where the telephone call or calls were received.
    4. A person who telephones a 911 emergency line with the intent to annoy or harass another person or who makes a false 911 report is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
      a. Intent to annoy or harass is established by proof of one or more calls with no legitimate 911 purpose.
      b. Upon conviction of a violation of this subsection, a person is also liable for all costs incurred by any unnecessary emergency response.
    5. Any offense defined herein is deemed communicated in writing if it is transmitted electronically, by electronic mail, facsimile, or other similar means.

Ohio
Ohio Code § 2917.21. Telecommunications harassment.

    (A) No person shall knowingly make or cause to be made a telecommunication, or knowingly permit a telecommunication to be made from a telecommunications device under the person’s control, to another, if the caller does any of the following:
      (1) Fails to identify the caller to the recipient of the telecommunication and makes the telecommunication with purpose to harass or abuse any person at the premises to which the telecommunication is made, whether or not actual communication takes place between the caller and a recipient;
      (2) Describes, suggests, requests, or proposes that the caller, the recipient of the telecommunication, or any other person engage in sexual activity, and the recipient or another person at the premises to which the telecommunication is made has requested, in a previous telecommunication or in the immediate telecommunication, that the caller not make a telecommunication to the recipient or to the premises to which the telecommunication is made;
      (3) During the telecommunication, violates section 2903.21 of the Revised Code;
      (4) Knowingly states to the recipient of the telecommunication that the caller intends to cause damage to or destroy public or private property, and the recipient, any member of the recipient’s family, or any other person who resides at the premises to which the telecommunication is made owns, leases, resides, or works in, will at the time of the destruction or damaging be near or in, has the responsibility of protecting, or insures the property that will be destroyed or damaged;
      (5) Knowingly makes the telecommunication to the recipient of the telecommunication, to another person at the premises to which the telecommunication is made, or to those premises, and the recipient or another person at those premises previously has told the caller not to make a telecommunication to those premises or to any persons at those premises.
    (B) No person shall make or cause to be made a telecommunication, or permit a telecommunication to be made from a telecommunications device under the person’s control, with purpose to abuse, threaten, or harass another person.
    (C)
      (1) Whoever violates this section is guilty of telecommunications harassment.
      (2) A violation of division (A)(1), (2), (3), or (5) or (B) of this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree [up to $1,000 fine, 180 days’ imprisonment or both] on a first offense and a felony of the fifth degree [up to $2,500 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both] on each subsequent offense.
      (3) Except as otherwise provided in division (C)(3) of this section, a violation of division (A)(4) of this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree on a first offense and a felony of the fifth degree on each subsequent offense. If a violation of division (A)(4) of this section results in economic harm of five hundred dollars or more but less than five thousand dollars, telecommunications harassment is a felony of the fifth degree. If a violation of division (A)(4) of this section results in economic harm of five thousand dollars or more but less than one hundred thousand dollars, telecommunications harassment is a felony of the fourth degree [up to $5,000 fine, 18 months’ imprisonment or both]. If a violation of division (A)(4) of this section results in economic harm of one hundred thousand dollars or more, telecommunications harassment is a felony of the third degree [up to $10,000 fine, five years’ imprisonment or both].
    (D) No cause of action may be asserted in any court of this state against any provider of a telecommunications service or information service, or against any officer, employee, or agent of a telecommunication service or information service, for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that allegedly arises out of the provider’s, officer’s, employee’s, or agent’s provision of information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with the terms of a court order that is issued in relation to the investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of this section or section 4931.31 of the Revised Code. A provider of a telecommunications service or information service, or an officer, employee, or agent of a telecommunications service or information service, is immune from any civil or criminal liability for injury, death, or loss to person or property that allegedly arises out of the provider’s, officer’s, employee’s, or agent’s provision of information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with the terms of a court order that is issued in relation to the investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of this section or section 4931.31 of the Revised Code.
    (E) As used in this section:
      (1) “Economic harm” means all direct, incidental, and consequential pecuniary harm suffered by a victim as a result of criminal conduct. “Economic harm” includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
        (a) All wages, salaries, or other compensation lost as a result of the criminal conduct;
        (b) The cost of all wages, salaries, or other compensation paid to employees for time those employees are prevented from working as a result of the criminal conduct;
        (c) The overhead costs incurred for the time that a business is shut down as a result of the criminal conduct;
        (d) The loss of value to tangible or intangible property that was damaged as a result of the criminal conduct.
      (2) “Caller” means the person described in division (A) of this section who makes or causes to be made a telecommunication or who permits a telecommunication to be made from a telecommunications device under that person’s control.
      (3) “Telecommunication” and “telecommunications device” have the same meanings as in section 2913.01 of the Revised Code.
      (4) “Sexual activity” has the same meaning as in section 2907.01 of the Revised Code.
      (F) Nothing in this section prohibits a person from making a telecommunication to a debtor that is in compliance with the “Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,” 91 Stat. 874 (1977), 15 U.S.C. 1692, as amended, or the “Telephone Consumer Protection Act,” 105 Stat. 2395 (1991), 47 U.S.C. 227, as amended.

Oklahoma
21 Okl. St. § 1172 § 1172. Obscene, threatening or harassing telecommunication or other electronic communications—Penalty

    A. It shall be unlawful for a person who, by means of a telecommunication or other electronic communication device, willfully either:
      1. Makes any comment, request, suggestion, or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent;
      2. Makes a telecommunication or other electronic communication with intent to terrify, intimidate or harass, or threaten to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or property of that person;
      3. Makes a telecommunication or other electronic communication, whether or not conversation ensues, with intent to put the party called in fear of physical harm or death;
      4. Makes a telecommunication or other electronic communication, whether or not conversation ensues, without disclosing the identity of the person making the call or communication and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number;
      5. Knowingly permits any telecommunication or other electronic communication under the control of the person to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section; and
      6. In conspiracy or concerted action with other persons, makes repeated calls or electronic communications or simultaneous calls or electronic communications solely to harass any person at the called number(s).
    B. As used in this section, “telecommunication” and “electronic communication” mean any type of telephonic, electronic or radio communications, or transmission of signs, signals, data, writings, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by telephone, including cellular telephones, wire, cable, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photo-optical system or the creation, display, management, storage, processing, transmission or distribution of images, text, voice, video or data by wire, cable or wireless means, including the Internet. The term includes:
      1. A communication initiated by electronic mail, instant message, network call, or facsimile machine; and
      2. A communication made to a pager.
    C. Use of a telephone or other electronic communications facility under this section shall include all use made of such a facility between the points of origin and reception. Any offense under this section is a continuing offense and shall be deemed to have been committed at either the place of origin or the place of reception.
    D. Except as provided in subsection E of this section, any person who is convicted of the provisions of subsection A of this section, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor [up to $500 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both].
    E. Any person who is convicted of a second offense under this section shall be guilty of a felony [up to $10,000 fine, two years’ imprisonment or both].

Oregon
ORS § 166.090. Telephonic harassment.

    (1) A telephone caller commits the crime of telephonic harassment if the caller intentionally harasses or annoys another person:
      (a) By causing the telephone of the other person to ring, such caller having no communicative purpose;
      (b) By causing such other person’s telephone to ring, knowing that the caller has been forbidden from so doing by a person exercising lawful authority over the receiving telephone; or
      (c) By sending to, or leaving at, the other person’s telephone a text message, voice mail or any other message, knowing that the caller has been forbidden from so doing by a person exercising lawful authority over the receiving telephone.
    (2) Telephonic harassment is a Class B misdemeanor [up to $2,500 fine or 6 months’ imprisonment].
    (3) It is an affirmative defense to a charge of violating subsection (1) of this section that the caller is a debt collector, as defined in ORS 646.639, who engaged in the conduct proscribed by subsection (1) of this section while attempting to collect a debt. The affirmative defense created by this subsection does not apply if the debt collector committed the unlawful collection practice described in ORS 646.639 (2)(a) while engaged in the conduct proscribed by subsection (1) of this section.

Pennsylvania
18 Pa.C.S. § 2709. Harassment.

    (a) OFFENSE DEFINED. — A person commits the crime of harassment when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another, the person:
      (1) strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects the other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same;
      (2) follows the other person in or about a public place or places;
      (3) engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which serve no legitimate purpose;
      (4) communicates to or about such other person any lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures;
      (5) communicates repeatedly in an anonymous manner;
      (6) communicates repeatedly at extremely inconvenient hours; or
      (7) communicates repeatedly in a manner other than specified in paragraphs (4), (5) and (6).

    ….

    (B.1) VENUE.--
      (1) An offense committed under this section may be deemed to have been committed at either the place at which the communication or communications were made or at the place where the communication or communications were received.
      (2) Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of conduct.
    (c) GRADING.--
      (1) An offense under subsection (a)(1), (2) or (3) shall constitute a summary offense.
      (2) (i) An offense under subsection (a)(4), (5), (6) or (7) shall constitute a misdemeanor of the third degree [up to $2,500 fine or one year’s imprisonment].

    (e) APPLICATION OF SECTION. — This section shall not apply to conduct by a party to a labor dispute as defined in the act of June 2, 1937 (P.L. 1198, No. 308), known as the Labor Anti-Injunction Act, or to any constitutionally protected activity.
    (f) DEFINITIONS. — As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
      “Communicates.” Conveys a message without intent of legitimate communication or address by oral, nonverbal, written or electronic means, including telephone, electronic mail, Internet, facsimile, telex, wireless communication or similar transmission.
      “Course of conduct.” A pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of conduct. Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of conduct.

Rhode Island
R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-35-17. Crank or obscene telephone calls.

    (a) Whoever shall originate a transmission by facsimile machine, or other telecommunication device or shall telephone any person repeatedly or cause any person to be telephoned repeatedly for the sole purpose of harassing, annoying, or molesting the other person or his or her family, whether or not conversation ensues; or whoever shall originate a transmission by facsimile machine, or other telecommunication device or shall telephone any person for the purpose of using any threatening, vulgar, indecent, obscene, or immoral language over the telephone, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
    (b) This section shall not be construed to impose any liability upon providers of telecommunications services.

South Carolina
S.C. Code Ann. § 16-17-430. Unlawful communication.

    (A) It is unlawful for a person to:
      (1) use in a telephonic communication or any other electronic means, any words or language of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or an indecent nature, or to communicate or convey by telephonic or other electronic means an obscene, vulgar, indecent, profane, suggestive, or immoral message to another person;
      (2) threaten in a telephonic communication or any other electronic means an unlawful act with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass another person;
      (3) telephone or electronically contact another repeatedly, whether or not conversation ensues, for the purpose of annoying or harassing another person or his family;
      (4) make a telephone call and intentionally fail to hang up or disengage the connection for the purpose of interfering with the telephone service of another;
      (5) telephone or contact by electronic means another and make false statements concerning either the death or injury of a member of the family of the person who is telephoned or electronically contacted, with the intent to annoy, frighten, or terrify that person; or
      (6) knowingly permit a telephone under his control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section.
    (B) A person who violates any provision of subsection (A) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days.

South Dakota
S.D. Codified Laws § 49-31-31.

    It is a Class 1 misdemeanor [up to $2,000 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both] for a person to use a telephone for any of the following purposes:
      (1) To call another person with intent to terrorize, intimidate, threaten, harass or annoy such person by using obscene or lewd language or by suggesting a lewd or lascivious act;
      (2) To call another person with intent to threaten to inflict physical harm or injury to any person or property;
      (3) To call another person with intent to extort money or other things of value;
      (4) To call another person with intent to disturb him by repeated anonymous telephone calls or intentionally failing to replace the receiver or disengage the telephone connection.
    It is a Class 1 misdemeanor [up to $2,000 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both] for a person to knowingly permit a telephone under his control to be used for a purpose prohibited by this section.

Tennessee
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-308. Harassment.

    (a) A person commits an offense who intentionally:
      (1) Threatens, by telephone, in writing, or by electronic communication, including electronic mail or internet services, to take action known to be unlawful against any person, and by this action knowingly annoys or alarms the recipient;
      (2) Places one (1) or more telephone calls anonymously, or at an hour or hours known to be inconvenient to the victim, or in an offensively repetitious manner, or without a legitimate purpose of communication, and by this action knowingly annoys or alarms the recipient; or
      (3) Communicates by telephone to another that a relative or other person has been injured, killed or is ill when the communication is known to be false.

    (c) A violation of subsection (a) is a Class A misdemeanor [up to $2,500 fine, 11 months 29 days’ imprisonment or both]. …

Texas
Tex. Penal Code § 42.07. Harassment

    (a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another, he:
      (1) initiates communication by telephone, in writing, or by electronic communication and in the course of the communication makes a comment, request, suggestion, or proposal that is obscene;
      (2) threatens, by telephone, in writing, or by electronic communication, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the threat, to inflict bodily injury on the person or to commit a felony against the person, a member of his family or household, or his property;
      (3) conveys, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the report, a false report, which is known by the conveyor to be false, that another person has suffered death or serious bodily injury;
      (4) causes the telephone of another to ring repeatedly or makes repeated telephone communications anonymously or in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another;
      (5) makes a telephone call and intentionally fails to hang up or disengage the connection;
      (6) knowingly permits a telephone under the person’s control to be used by another to commit an offense under this section; or
      (7) sends repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.
    (b) In this section:
      (1) “Electronic communication” means a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system. The term includes:
        (A) a communication initiated by electronic mail, instant message, network call, or facsimile machine; and
        (B) a communication made to a pager.
      (2) “Family” and “household” have the meaning assigned by Chapter 71, Family Code.
      (3) “Obscene” means containing a patently offensive description of or a solicitation to commit an ultimate sex act, including sexual intercourse, masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus, or a description of an excretory function.
    (c) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor [up to $2,000 fine, 180 days’ imprisonment or both], except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor [up to $4,000 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both] if the actor has previously been convicted under this section.

Utah
Utah Code Ann. § 76-9-201. Electronic communication harassment — Definitions — Penalties

    (1) As used in this section:
      (a) “Electronic communication” means any communication by electronic, electro-mechanical, or electro-optical communication device for the transmission and reception of audio, image, or text but does not include broadcast transmissions or similar communications that are not targeted at any specific individual.
      (b) “Electronic communication device” includes telephone, facsimile, electronic mail, or pager.
    (2) A person is guilty of electronic communication harassment and subject to prosecution in the jurisdiction where the communication originated or was received if with intent to annoy, alarm, intimidate, offend, abuse, threaten, harass, frighten, or disrupt the electronic communications of another, the person:
      (a)
        (i) makes repeated contact by means of electronic communications, whether or not a conversation ensues; or
        (ii) after the recipient has requested or informed the person not to contact the recipient, and the person repeatedly or continuously:
          (A) contacts the electronic communication device of the recipient; or
          (B) causes an electronic communication device of the recipient to ring or to receive other notification of attempted contact by means of electronic communication;
      (b) makes contact by means of electronic communication and insults, taunts, or challenges the recipient of the communication or any person at the receiving location in a manner likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response;
      (c) makes contact by means of electronic communication and threatens to inflict injury, physical harm, or damage to any person or the property of any person; or
      (d) causes disruption, jamming, or overload of an electronic communication system through excessive message traffic or other means utilizing an electronic communication device.
    (3) Electronic communication harassment is a class B misdemeanor [up to $1,000 or six months’ imprisonment].
    (4) This section does not create any civil cause of action based on electronic communications made for legitimate business purposes.

Vermont
13 V.S.A. § 1027. Disturbing peace by use of telephone or other electronic communications

    (a) A person who, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass or annoy, makes contact by means of a telephonic or other electronic communication with another and
      (i) makes any request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious or indecent;
      (ii) threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to the person or property of any person; or
      (iii) disturbs, or attempts to disturb, by repeated anonymous telephone calls or other electronic communications, whether or not conversation ensues, the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person at the place where the communication or communications are received
    shall be fined not more than $250.00 or be imprisoned not more than three months or both. If the defendant has previously been convicted of a violation of this section or of an offense under the laws of another state or of the United States which would have been an offense under this act if committed in this state, the defendant shall be fined not more than $500.00 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.
    (b) An intent to terrify, threaten, harass or annoy may be inferred by the trier of fact from the use of obscene, lewd, lascivious or indecent language or the making of a threat or statement or repeated anonymous telephone calls or other electronic communications as set forth in this section and any trial court may in its discretion include a statement to this effect in its jury charge.
    (c) An offense committed by use of a telephone or other electronic communication device as set forth in this section shall be considered to have been committed at either the place where the telephone call or calls originated or at the place where the communication or communications or calls were received.

Virginia
Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-427. Use of profane, threatening or indecent language over public airways

    If any person shall use obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd, lascivious, or indecent language, or make any suggestion or proposal of an obscene nature, or threaten any illegal or immoral act with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass any person, over any telephone or citizens band radio, in this Commonwealth, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor [up to $2,500 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both].

Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-428. Giving certain false information to another by telephone

    If any person maliciously advises or informs another over any telephone in this Commonwealth of the death of, accident to, injury to, illness of, or disappearance of some third party, knowing the same to be false, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor [up to $2,500 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both].

Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-429. Causing telephone to ring with intent to annoy

    Any person who, with or without intent to communicate but with intent to annoy any other person, causes any telephone or digital pager, not his own, to ring or to otherwise signal, and any person who permits or condones the use of any telephone under his control for such purpose shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor [up to $500 fine].
    Any person who, with or without intent to converse, but with intent to annoy, harass, hinder or delay emergency personnel in the performance of their duties as such, causes a telephone to ring, which is owned or leased for the purpose of receiving emergency calls by a public or private entity providing fire, police or emergency medical service, and any person who knowingly permits the use of a telephone under his control for such purpose, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor [up to $2,500 fine, one year’s imprisonment or both].

Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-430. Venue for offenses under this article

    Any person violating any of the provisions of this article may be prosecuted either in the county or city from which he called or in the county or city in which the call was received.

Washington
Rev. Code Wash. § 9.61.230. Telephone harassment.

    (1) Every person who, with intent to harass, intimidate, torment or embarrass any other person, shall make a telephone call to such other person:
      (a) Using any lewd, lascivious, profane, indecent, or obscene words or language, or suggesting the commission of any lewd or lascivious act; or
      (b) Anonymously or repeatedly or at an extremely inconvenient hour, whether or not conversation ensues; or
      (c) Threatening to inflict injury on the person or property of the person called or any member of his or her family or household; is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, except as provided in subsection (2) of this section.
    (2) The person is guilty of a class C felony [up to $10,000, five years’ imprisonment or both] punishable according to chapter 9A.20 RCW if either of the following applies:
      (a) That person has previously been convicted of any crime of harassment, as defined in RCW 9A.46.060, with the same victim or member of the victim’s family or household or any person specifically named in a no-contact or no-harassment order in this or any other state; or
      (b) That person harasses another person under subsection (1)(c) of this section by threatening to kill the person threatened or any other person.

West Virginia
W.Va. Code § 61-8-16. Obscene, anonymous, harassing, repeated and threatening telephone calls; penalty.

    (a) It shall be unlawful for any person with intent to harass or abuse another by means of telephone to:
      (1) Make any comment, request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene; or
      (2) Make a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to harass any person at the called number; or
      (3) Make or cause the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number; or
      (4) Make repeated telephone calls, during which conversation ensues, with intent to harass any person at the called number; or
      (5) Threaten to commit a crime against any person or property.
    (b) It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly permit any telephone under his control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section.
    (c) Any offense committed under this section may be deemed to have occurred at the place at which the telephone call was made, or the place at which the telephone called was received.
    (d) Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned.

Wisconsin
Wis. Stat. 947.012. Unlawful use of telephone.

    (1) Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor [up to $1,000 fine, 90 days’ imprisonment or both]:
      (a) With intent to frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse or harass, makes a telephone call and threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person.
      (b) With intent to frighten, intimidate, threaten or abuse, telephones another and uses any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggests any lewd or lascivious act.
      (c) Makes a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, without disclosing his or her identity and with intent to abuse or threaten any person at the called number.
    (2) Whoever does any of the following is subject to a Class B forfeiture [up to $1,000]:
      (a) With intent to harass or offend, telephones another and uses any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggests any lewd or lascivious act.
      (b) Makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number.
      (c) Makes repeated telephone calls, whether or not conversation ensues, with intent solely to harass any person at the called number.
      (d) Makes a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, without disclosing his or her identity and with intent to harass any person at the called number.
      (e) Knowingly permits any telephone under his or her control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section.

Wyoming
Wyo. Stat. § 6-6-103. Telephone calls; unlawful acts; penalties; place of commission of crime.

    (a) A person commits a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than one (1) year, a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), or both, if he telephones another anonymously or under a false or fictitious name and uses obscene, lewd or profane language or suggests a lewd or lascivious act with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend.
    (b) A person commits a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than one (1) year, a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), or both, if:
      (i) By repeated anonymous telephone calls, he disturbs the peace, quiet or privacy of persons where the calls were received; or
      (ii) He telephones another and threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to the person or property of any person.
    (c) A crime under this section is committed at the place where the calls either originated or were received.

Model Penal Code
Model Penal Code § 250.4. Harassment.

    A person commits a petty misdemeanor [up to $500 fine or 30 days’ imprisonment] if, with purpose to harass another, he:
      (1) makes a telephone call without purpose of legitimate communication; or
      (2) insults, taunts or challenges another in a manner likely to provoke violent or disorderly response; or
      (3) makes repeated communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language; or
      (4) subjects another to an offensive touching; or
      (5) engages in any other course of alarming conduct serving no legitimate purpose of the actor.

U.S. Code
47 USCS § 223. Obscene or harassing telephone calls in the District of Columbia or in interstate or foreign communications

    (a) Prohibited acts generally. Whoever--
      (1) in interstate or foreign communications--
        (A) by means of a telecommunications device knowingly--
          (i) makes, creates, or solicits, and
          (ii) initiates the transmission of, any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication which is obscene or child pornography, with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person;
        (B) by means of a telecommunications device knowingly--
          (i) makes, creates, or solicits, and
          (ii) initiates the transmission of, any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication which is obscene or child pornography, knowing that the recipient of the communication is under 18 years of age, regardless of whether the maker of such communication placed the call or initiated the communication;
        (C) makes a telephone call or utilizes a telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or communication ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number or who receives the communications;
        (D) makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number; or
        (E) makes repeated telephone calls or repeatedly initiates communication with a telecommunications device, during which conversation or communication ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number or who receives the communication; or
      (2) knowingly permits any telecommunications facility under his control to be used for any activity prohibited by paragraph (1) with the intent that it be used for such activity, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
    (b) Prohibited acts for commercial purposes; defense to prosecution.
      (1) Whoever knowingly--
        (A) within the United States, by means of telephone, makes (directly or by recording device) any obscene communication for commercial purposes to any person, regardless of whether the maker of such communication placed the call; or
        (B) permits any telephone facility under such person’s control to be used for an activity prohibited by subparagraph (A), shall be fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
      (2) Whoever knowingly--
        (A) within the United States, by means of telephone, makes (directly or by recording device) any indecent communication for commercial purposes which is available to any person under 18 years of age or to any other person without that person’s consent, regardless of whether the maker of such communication placed the call; or
        (B) permits any telephone facility under such person’s control to be used for an activity prohibited by subparagraph (A), shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
      (3) It is a defense to prosecution under paragraph (2) of this subsection that the defendant restricted access to the prohibited communication to persons 18 years of age or older in accordance with subsection (c) of this section and with such procedures as the Commission may prescribe by regulation.
      (4) In addition to the penalties under paragraph (1), whoever, within the United States, intentionally violates paragraph (1) or (2) shall be subject to a fine of not more than $50,000 for each violation. For purposes of this paragraph, each day of violation shall constitute a separate violation.
      (5)
        (A) In addition to the penalties under paragraphs (1), (2), and (5), whoever, within the United States, violates paragraph (1) or (2) shall be subject to a civil fine of not more than $50,000 for each violation. For purposes of this paragraph, each day of violation shall constitute a separate violation.
        (B) A fine under this paragraph may be assessed either--
          (i) by a court, pursuant to civil action by the Commission or any attorney employed by the Commission who is designated by the Commission for such purposes, or
          (ii) by the Commission after appropriate administrative proceedings.
      (6) The Attorney General may bring a suit in the appropriate district court of the United States to enjoin any act or practice which violates paragraph (1) or (2). An injunction may be granted in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
    (c) Restriction on access to subscribers by common carriers; judicial remedies respecting restrictions.
      (1) A common carrier within the District of Columbia or within any State, or in interstate or foreign commerce, shall not, to the extent technically feasible, provide access to a communication specified in subsection (b) from the telephone of any subscriber who has not previously requested in writing the carrier to provide access to such communication if the carrier collects from subscribers an identifiable charge for such communication that the carrier remits, in whole or in part, to the provider of such communication.
      (2) Except as provided in paragraph (3), no cause of action may be brought in any court or administrative agency against any common carrier, or any of its affiliates, including their officers, directors, employees, agents, or authorized representatives on account of--
        (A) any action which the carrier demonstrates was taken in good faith to restrict access pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection; or
        (B) any access permitted--
          (i) in good faith reliance upon the lack of any representation by a provider of communications that communications provided by that provider are communications specified in subsection (b), or
          (ii) because a specific representation by the provider did not allow the carrier, acting in good faith, a sufficient period to restrict access to communications described in subsection (b).
      (3) Notwithstanding paragraph (2) of this subsection, a provider of communications services to which subscribers are denied access pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection may bring an action for a declaratory judgment or similar action in a court. Any such action shall be limited to the question of whether the communications which the provider seeks to provide fall within the category of communications to which the carrier will provide access only to subscribers who have previously requested such access.
    (d) Sending or displaying offensive material to persons under 18. Whoever--
      (1) in interstate or foreign communications knowingly--
        (A) uses an interactive computer service to send to a specific person or persons under 18 years of age, or
        (B) uses any interactive computer service to display in a manner available to a person under 18 years of age, any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication that is obscene or child pornography, regardless of whether the user of such service placed the call or initiated the communication; or
      (2) knowingly permits any telecommunications facility under such person’s control to be used for an activity prohibited by paragraph (1) with the intent that it be used for such activity,
      shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
    (e) Defenses. In addition to any other defenses available by law:
      (1) No person shall be held to have violated subsection (a) or (d) solely for providing access or connection to or from a facility, system, or network not under that person’s control, including transmission, downloading, intermediate storage, access software, or other related capabilities that are incidental to providing such access or connection that does not include the creation of the content of the communication.
      (2) The defenses provided by paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be applicable to a person who is a conspirator with an entity actively involved in the creation or knowing distribution of communications that violate this section, or who knowingly advertises the availability of such communications.
      (3) The defenses provided in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be applicable to a person who provides access or connection to a facility, system, or network engaged in the violation of this section that is owned or controlled by such person.
      (4) No employer shall be held liable under this section for the actions of an employee or agent unless the employee’s or agent’s conduct is within the scope of his or her employment or agency and the employer (A) having knowledge of such conduct, authorizes or ratifies such conduct, or (B) recklessly disregards such conduct.
      (5) It is a defense to a prosecution under subsection (a)(1)(B) or (d), or under subsection (a)(2) with respect to the use of a facility for an activity under subsection (a)(1)(B) that a person--
        (A) has taken, in good faith, reasonable, effective, and appropriate actions under the circumstances to restrict or prevent access by minors to a communication specified in such subsections, which may involve any appropriate measures to restrict minors from such communications, including any method which is feasible under available technology; or
        (B) has restricted access to such communication by requiring use of a verified credit card, debit account, adult access code, or adult personal identification number.
      (6) The Commission may describe measures which are reasonable, effective, and appropriate to restrict access to prohibited communications under subsection (d). Nothing in this section authorizes the Commission to enforce, or is intended to provide the Commission with the authority to approve, sanction, or permit, the use of such measures. The Commission shall have no enforcement authority over the failure to utilize such measures. The Commission shall not endorse specific products relating to such measures. The use of such measures shall be admitted as evidence of good faith efforts for purposes of paragraph (5) in any action arising under subsection (d). Nothing in this section shall be construed to treat interactive computer services as common carriers or telecommunications carriers.
    (f) Violations of law required; commercial entities, nonprofit libraries, or institutions of higher education.
      (1) No cause of action may be brought in any court or administrative agency against any person on account of any activity that is not in violation of any law punishable by criminal or civil penalty, and that the person has taken in good faith to implement a defense authorized under this section or otherwise to restrict or prevent the transmission of, or access to, a communication specified in this section.
      (2) No State or local government may impose any liability for commercial activities or actions by commercial entities, nonprofit libraries, or institutions of higher education in connection with an activity or action described in subsection (a)(2) or (d) that is inconsistent with the treatment of those activities or actions under this section: Provided, however, That nothing herein shall preclude any State or local government from enacting and enforcing complementary oversight, liability, and regulatory systems, procedures, and requirements, so long as such systems, procedures, and requirements govern only intrastate services and do not result in the imposition of inconsistent rights, duties or obligations on the provision of interstate services. Nothing in this subsection shall preclude any State or local government from governing conduct not covered by this section.
    (g) Application and enforcement of other Federal law. Nothing in subsection (a), (d), (e), or (f) or in the defenses to prosecution under subsection (a) or (d) shall be construed to affect or limit the application or enforcement of any other Federal law.
    (h) Definitions. For purposes of this section--
      (1) The use of the term “telecommunications device” in this section--
        (A) shall not impose new obligations on broadcasting station licensees and cable operators covered by obscenity and indecency provisions elsewhere in this Act [47 USCS § 151 et seq.];
        (B) does not include an interactive computer service; and
        (C) in the case of subparagraph (C) of subsection (a)(1), includes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet (as such term is defined in section 1104 of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (47 U.S.C. 151 note)).
      (2) The term “interactive computer service” has the meaning provided in section 230(f)(2) [47 USCS § 230(f)(2)].
      (3) The term “access software” means software (including client or server software) or enabling tools that do not create or provide the content of the communication but that allow a user to do any one or more of the following:
        (A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;
        (B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or
        (C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search, subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.
      (4) The term “institution of higher education” has the meaning provided in section 101 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 [20 USCS § 1001].
      (5) The term “library” means a library eligible for participation in State-based plans for funds under title III of the Library Services and Construction Act (20 U.S.C. 355e et seq.).


Related
Analysis/Commentary summary page
View the latest analysis and commentary throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print


Last system update: Thursday, August 21, 2008 | 09:11:12
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

First Reports
Supreme Court
Experts
Columnists
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Sings™
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links