Electronic Communication Harassment in Utah

The crime of Electronic Communication Harassment in Utah is extremely broad.  Because of the way the Utah law is written, it can include almost any electronic communication between two people which involves some kind of disagreement.  Therefore, Utah law enforcement officers and Utah criminal courts have a great deal of discretion in choosing who to prosecute for this crime.  In spite of this, you still have important constitutional rights and protections.  If you have been charged with Electronic Communication Harassment, it is important to have an experienced defense lawyer at your side.  The Electronic Communication Harassment attorneys at Intermountain Legal know the Electronic Communication Harassment law and the Utah criminal court system.  We can put our extensive experience to work for you to fight your Electronic Communication Harassment charges and to minimize any potential consequences.

Utah Electronic Communication Harassment Law

As the use of electronic forms of personal communication have become more and more common, the State of Utah has become more and more serious about passing and enforcing laws against Electronic Communication Harassment.  It is important to understand at what point your efforts to communicate with another person via an electronic device, such as a cell phone, land line, fax machine, pager, Skype, social media, or email, cross the line into Electronic Communication Harassment.  It depends, first, on your intent.  In order for electronic communication to rise to the level of Electronic Communication Harassment, you must try to contact the other person with the intent to annoy, alarm, intimidate, offend, abuse, threaten, harass, or frighten them.  The negative of this can be very hard to prove.  For example, if the other person says they were annoyed by your texts, it can be challenging to provide the Utah criminal court with evidence that you didn’t intend for your texts to be annoying.

Usually, for Electronic Communication Harassment to apply, you must make repeated or continuous attempts to contact the other person electronically.  This is Electronic Communication Harassment regardless of whether you succeed in getting the other person to engage in a conversation with you, such as by answering the phone or responding to your texts or facebook posts.  This is especially true if the other person has asked you not to contact them.  You can be found guilty of Electronic Communication Harassment just for making their phone ring.

In Utah, you can be found guilty of Electronic Communication Harassment even if your attempts to contact the other person are not repetitive or continuous if, at any time when you contact them electronically, you insult, taunt, or challenge the other person in a way that is likely to cause a violent or disorderly response.  Similarly, you can be found guilty of Electronic Communication Harassment in Utah if any time you contact the other person electronically you threaten to inflict injury or personal harm on that person or any other person.  This is also true if you threaten to damage property.

It also constitutes Electronic Communication Harassment in Utah if you cause disruption, jamming, or overload of an electronic communication device.  This can happen, for example, if you send an excessive amount of messages.

A person who commits Electronic Communication Harassment can be prosecuted either in the Utah jurisdiction where the communication was initiated or the Utah jurisdiction where the communication was received.

Utah Electronic Communication Harassment Consequences

The consequences of Electronic Communication Harassment in Utah vary depending on the age of the victim and whether or not the defendant has been convicted of any previous incidents of Electronic Communication Harassment.  Electronic Communication Harassment against an adult is a class B misdemeanor on the first occurrence.  Utah court imposed punishments for a class B misdemeanor can include up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1000.  A second or subsequent violation of the Utah Electronic Communication Harassment law is a class A misdemeanor if all of the violations were committed against adults.  Utah court imposed consequences for a class A misdemeanor can include up to one year in jail and a fine of $2500.  However, if any of the violations were committed against a minor, the perpetrator will be charged with a third degree felony.  A conviction for a third degree felony in Utah is punishable with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5000.  A first incident of Electronic Communication Harassment against a minor is a class A misdemeanor. A second incident against a minor is a third degree felony.

If the Electronic Communication Harassment is part of a larger case of domestic violence, the harasser could be denied bail, could be ordered to participate in a monitoring program, or could be ordered to pay for counseling for the victim.  A person convicted of any form of domestic violence, including Electronic Communication Harassment, is banned for life from owning or having control of a firearm for life.

A conviction for Electronic Communication Harassment has additional consequences beyond those that can be imposed by a Utah criminal court.   A conviction for Electronic Communication Harassment in Utah will remain on your record permanently unless you are able to eventually have it expunged.  The conviction will show up on any kind of a background check, such as the kind that are routinely run for employment or real estate rentals. A conviction can also interfere with your chances for career promotion and may bar you from certain volunteer opportunities.  Also, the victim of Electronic Communication Harassment has the option of suing their harasser in civil court and collecting a money judgment for emotional distress or any other damages they may have suffered.  A criminal conviction for Electronic Communication Harassment can make a civil case for Electronic Communication Harassment very easy to prove.

Contact a Utah Electronic Communication Harassment Lawyer

Electronic Communication Harassment is a real crime with potentially serious and life-altering consequences.  If you have been charged with Electronic Communication Harassment in Utah, you need to call a criminal defense Electronic Communication Harassment attorney immediately.  The actions you take in the first hours after your charge may determine the outcome of your case.    Never talk with Utah police or prosecutors until you have consulted a defense lawyer, even if you think you have nothing to hide and want to show that you are cooperative.  Your initial consultation is free and you will speak directly with one of our experienced Electronic Communication Harassment criminal defense lawyers.  Even if it is not in your best interest to hire a criminal defense attorney, we will help you understand  the seriousness of the charges against you and what your next steps should be in fighting a conviction for Electronic Communication Harassment. Call 801-990-4200 for a free initial consultation.