Salt Lake City Electronic Communication Harassment Lawyer

Salt Lake criminal defense lawyer

Attorney Darwin Overson can defend you if you were charged with electronic communication harassment in Salt Lake City, Utah. According to Utah Code Ann. § 77–9–201, “electronic harassment” covers a broad range of computer or electronic communications. Charges for this crime are typically based on allegedly repeated contacts using a computer with intent to abuse, threaten, or disrupt the electronic communications of another person. If convicted (and depending on the age of the victim), you may face fines and jail time. Moreover, if the charges are part of a more complicated case of domestic violence, you can be denied bail and restricted in your ability to carry firearms.

At the Salt Lake City law office of Darwin Overson, you will receive high-quality and proactive legal services. Electronic communications harassment is a complicated crime, even if you didn’t realize your communications were criminal. Whether you were wronged or misunderstood, your interests are best represented by an attorney who understands the intricacies of this crime and how to defend you against these accusations. Contact Darwin at (801) 823-6909.

What is Electronic Communication Harassment?

Criminal harassment typically involves a course of conduct or pattern that alarms, annoys or harasses a person. The statute specifies that this type of communication is not based on a “legitimate reason” to engage in the allegedly obtrusive behavior, and these communications are generally made without provocation and in spite of requests by the recipient to not be contacted.  The language of this statute is so wide that you can be charged even if the other person doesn’t respond, and you can be found guilty
even if you weren’t warned before facing the accusations.

Critics of this statute maintain that it is unconstitutional because it’s overly broad and vague. Also, the wording of this statute gives law enforcement great discretion regarding who is charged under the statute. Since there is an inherent “broadness” problem in the statute, you need an experienced attorney who will parse out the accusations to determine if the actions were meant to annoy, alarm, intimidate, offend, abuse, threaten, harass or frighten another, specifically prohibiting:

  • Insults
  • Taunts
  • Statements that can elicit a violent or disorderly response
  • Threats to inflict injury
  • Causes of disruption, jamming or overload of electronic communications
  • Electronic publication of private information with an intent to cause harm

You could be found guilty under this statute even if you didn’t receive any response from the plaintiff at the time the alleged crime occurred. This communication could have been conducted via any common digital media:

  • Cell phone
  • Land line
  • Fax machine
  • Pager
  • Skype
  • Social media
  • E-mail

The central question of this crime is whether the surrounding circumstances demonstrate that the actions were intentional. Since the standard of proof in criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the prosecutor must present facts and circumstances showing that you expected the victim to feel scared or harassed beyond any reasonable doubt. If you have indications the alleged victim knew you didn’t intend to harm, abuse or threaten, then the charges should be dismissed, or you should be found not guilty.

To accomplish this result, you will need a criminal attorney who can make sure the police didn’t violate your constitutional rights in obtaining evidence against you. If this is the case, the evidence used against you has to be withdrawn or pulled out.

Penalties for Electronic Communication Harassment in Utah

Every crime in Utah comes with different classifications depending on age, severity, and the number of times you have been charged with the same crime. Electronic communications are typically charged as follows:

Electronic Harassment of an Adult

A first-time offense towards an adult is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. A subsequent offense is a Class A misdemeanor that can lead to up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

Electronic Harassment of a Minor

If the electronic communications are made toward a minor, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses are charged as a third-degree felony. A conviction for a third-degree felony is punishable by five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Consequences If You’re Facing Multiple Charges

These cases can get complicated if, alongside the electric communication harassment, you are charged with domestic violence. If this happens, your bail can be denied, and you may have to pay for counseling services for the alleged victim; you could also be prohibited from carrying a firearm. Defendants charged with electronic harassment often face additional charges, including felony staking or terroristic threats.

A conviction for electronic communications harassment in Salt Lake City will appear in your record permanently unless you can obtain an expungement. Such a conviction can have a negative impact when you apply for jobs or a rental. The extent of the damage this can have in your career is unpredictable because you don’t want to carry the stigma of being considered a harasser.

Moreover, if you are found guilty of this crime, you can face a civil lawsuit by the alleged victim seeking compensation for distress and other emotional scars. A conviction under this statute can constitute prove in a civil case.

Salt Lake City, UT Criminal Defense Attorney Fighting Charges of Electronic Communication Harassment

You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend you against charges of electronic communication harassment. Make sure to ask for your attorney’s presence before you talk to police or prosecutors, even if you think there is no reason to worry. Charges under a broad statute present multiple risks that your attorney can help you understand. Your initial consultation is free of charge. Call (801) 823-6909 to schedule your meeting with attorney Darwin Overson.