Penalties For Making Obscene or Harassing Telephone Calls
It is a crime in Massachusetts to make harassing or obscene phone calls. Massachusetts General Laws 269 Section 14A states that:
“Whoever telephones another person, or causes any person to be telephoned, repeatedly, for the sole purpose of harassing, annoying, or molesting such person or his family, whether or not conversation ensues, or whoever telephones a person repeatedly, and uses indecent or obscene language to such person, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 or by imprisonment for not more than 3 months, or by both such a fine and imprisonment.”
In order to obtain a conviction for making harassing telephone calls the commonwealth’s prosecutor must prove two elements:
1) The defendant repeatedly called the victim or has gotten others to call the victim on three or more occasions.
2) The defendant had no other reason to makes the calls but to annoy, molest, or harass the victim or the victim’s family.
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A defendant’s conviction was overturned for repeatedly telephoning someone for the purpose of harassing, annoying, or molesting the victim. The conviction was based on the following evidence: victim received two unwelcome hang-up telephone calls both of which were traced to the defendant’s phone. Other calls from unspecified numbers were made to the victim’s house at different times of the night. The conviction was overturned because the word “repeatedly” in statute requires the defendant make three or more telephone calls.