All You Need to Know to Deal With Harassment in Texas

In the U.S. about 20,000 harassment charges were filed in 2019 alone, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 2018, Texas was one of the top three states with the highest rates of sexual harassment at work, along with New York and Florida.

Given that harassment is on the rise in Texas, let’s take a closer look at what it means when someone is harassing you and how to prevent and deal with harassment.

Acts That Qualify as Harassment in Texas

Harassment constitutes any act committed with intent to harass, abuse, alarm, annoy, embarrass, or torment another person.

Under the Texas Penal Code § 42.07., harassment is treated as Class B misdemeanor punishable with up to $2,000 fine, up to 180 days in county jail, probation, and a prohibition from having a license to carry a weapon for five years. Repeated offense is processed as Class A misdemeanor, and penalty may increase to $4,000 fine and up to one year in the county jail.

The types of acts punishable as harassment in Texas are:

  1. Obscene communication
  2. Threatening communication
  3. False report
  4. Phone harassment
  5. Electronic communication harassment

Obscene communication pertains to initiating any contact, whether in person, in writing, by telephone, or electronically and making a proposal, suggestion, request, or comment that contains a description of or solicitation to commit any sexual act.

Threatening communication denotes any threat that causes the victim to be alarmed that they may suffer bodily injury or that the perpetrator will commit a felony against them, their family or household members, or their property.

The false report refers to knowingly conveying a false report to the victim that another person has suffered death or bodily injury in a way likely to alarm them.

Phone harassment can be anything from making repeated anonymous phone calls, refusing to hang up, or allowing another person to use the phone under the original person’s control to commit any act of harassment.

Electronic communication harassment is the act of using electronic communication channels to send repeated texts, sounds, images, data, or any intelligence transmitted wholly or partly with intent to harass, annoy, embarrass, torment, alarm, abuse, or offend another person.

Factors Elevating the Degree of Harassment 

Most offenses are treated as Class B misdemeanors under the Texas harassment law. But in some instances, the offense is processed as Class A misdemeanor and requires more severe punitive measures.

Class A misdemeanor is an offense:

  • That is repeated
  • That constitutes electronic communication harassment
  • That is committed against a minor with the intent to provoke suicide or to cause serious bodily injury to a child
  • That constitutes a violation of a restraining order or injunction under chapter 129A, Civil Practice and Remedies Code

Factors That Elevate Harassment Charges

Harassment, stalking, and bullying are different offenses that can overlap. There are subtle distinctions in the pattern and setting of the offender’s behavior that affect the charge.

In some cases, harassment charges can elevate to more serious charges of stalking or bullying as a result of aggravating factors, such as:

  • Frequently calling and threatening to harm, injure, or cause death to a person might aggravate to stalking
  • Frequently texting, emailing, or attempting contact on online platforms and threatening to harm a person might elevate to cyberbullying or cyber stalking
  • Making a person or their family and household members fear death, bodily injury, or property damage may lead to stalking charges
  • Frequently making a person or their family and household members feel harassed, annoyed, abused, alarmed, tormented, embarrassed, or offended may lead to stalking charges
  • Physically intimidating a person and threatening harm may constitute bullying
  • Conveying any communication that makes an obscene proposal to a minor may elevate to solicitation of a minor

Harassment Preventive Measures in Texas

You need to know that you are not responsible for other people’s behavior, especially when they are harassing you.

The thing you can do is try not to get under their radar. That means that you can take steps to lower your chances of getting harassed and increase your safety.

Some of the things you can do are:

  • Never disclose your number or any personal information to strangers
  • Limit your personal information available in public and on the internet
  • Adjust your privacy settings on all social media accounts
  • Verify the identity of everyone you come in close contact with
  • Don’t answer calls or reply to messages from people you do not know
  • Instruct your family, friends, neighbors, and others never to reveal any information about you or themselves on the phone, the internet, or in public

Keep Your Harasser Away With DoNotPay

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Never put up with harassers, stalkers, bullies, or other abusers. You have the right to a safe, healthy, and carefree life, so don’t let HOA or landlord harassment take that away from you.

We at DoNotPay are on the mission to help you exercise that right. Our Relationship Protection option will help you stop a stalker or a harasser.

To get our help, all you have to do is:

  • Log on DoNotPay in your web browser or get the app for your iOS device
  • Go for Relationship Protection
  • Click Safety and Stalking
  • Choose Stalking and specify whether it is online or in-person 
  • Provide the chatbot with as much information as you can about your case

Our next step will depend on the harassment method you described. Be it online, in-person, or both, here is what we will do:

Online Harassment Scenario

As cyber harassment can also be threatening and annoying, we will do the following on your behalf:

  1. Contact the platform where the harassment took place and report the case to the platform authorities so that the perpetrator’s online activity and account get investigated
  2. Request that the harasser’s account is blocked and preclude them from ever contacting you again

In-Person Harassment Scenario

If your harasser is an in-person offender, we will issue a cease and desist letter. 

The document will serve the following purposes:

  1. It will ask the harasser to stop
  2. It will serve as a fair warning to the harasser as to what’s coming next—taking legal action against them
  3. It will be proof that you have tried to resolve the issue yourself

Steps to Take if Harassed in Texas

Dealing with harassment can be stressful, painstaking, time and energy-consuming, or even traumatic. You have to remember to stay calm and rise above the situation by being alert and taking concrete steps to increase your safety.

Some of the measures we suggest you take to achieve that end are listed in the table below.

Dos

Don’ts

  • Ask the offender to stop contacting you, and document when you do
  • Do not play detective
  • File for an injunction
  • Do not engage with the harasser
  • Document each occurrence of harassment, including date, time, location, and method
  • Do not extend contact by trying to figure out who the perpetrator is in case you don’t already know
  • Collect evidence of harassment, including emails, voice or text messages, photos, videos, call logs, and social media contact attempts
  • Hang up the phone if they do not respond when calling you or if they make inappropriate comments
  • Inform your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and others in your social circle of what is going on so they can be alert
  • Do not be or act clever, as the perpetrator may see it as an encouragement
  • If upset, do not indicate it to the caller as this is what they want—hang up the phone

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