Is Text Harassment a Crime?

Take this scenario: You're sending a few texts to a person you know – they could be a friend, romantic partner, or acquaintance. Although you're sending messages to them, they're not returning any. Upset, you tell them that you expect to hear a response from them; otherwise, you might take some action, such as cause them physical harm.

A few minutes later, you get a response, but it's not what you expected. The person's message says that they're going to report you for text harassment.

But is that a crime? Could you be charged and possibly go to jail for text harassment?

In Kansas, the answer to that question is "yes."

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what is considered text harassment?

Kansas doesn't have a specific law called text harassment. The statute that concerns sending messages is Kansas Statute 21-6206, and it's referred to harassment by telecommunication device.

Under the law, a telecommunication device includes telephones, cell phones, or any other electronic device capable of sending communications.

The statute prohibits people from knowingly sending texts that abuse, threaten, or harass another person.

Referring back to the earlier hypothetical situation, the person you were messaging could report you for text harassment because you said you were going to commit some offense against them because they weren't responding.

What Conduct Is Considered Telecommunications Harassment?

The law does not just prohibit individuals from sending harassing, threatening, or abusive text messages. It also makes various other types of conduct involving telecommunications devices illegal.

The law provides that it is unlawful to send texts or images that someone else might consider:

  • Obscene,
  • Lewd,
  • Lascivious, or
  • Indecent.

Additionally, a person could be accused of this crime for making harassing calls. For example, say after you sent the text to the other person, you still didn't get a reply. You decide to call them and make a threat to get them to respond. Regardless of whether or not you actually talk to them, if you intended to harass, abuse, or threaten them by making that call, you are committing an offense. And, if you repeatedly call the other person, you could also be prosecuted under the telecommunication harassment law.

What Are the Penalties for Phone Harassment?

Harassment by telecommunication device is considered a serious offense. It is charged as a class A nonperson misdemeanor, which is the most serious type.

If you are convicted for the offense, you could face the following penalties:

  • Up to 1 year in jail; and/or
  • Up to $2,500 in fines.

Although a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, it's still crucial to have a criminal defense lawyer help handle your case.