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Unlawful Communications in Louisiana

Unlawful Communications in Louisiana

The criminal charge once known as improper telephone communications and now Unlawful Communications under La RS 14:285. It is a misdemeanor offense unless you have prior convictions for the same charge.  If you have a charge for improper telephone communications in Louisiana, then you were arrested, or most likely given a misdemeanor summons. Either way, you must take this charge seriously as it can leave a blemish on your criminal record that could negatively impact your future.  

Carl Barkemeyer is an improper telephone communications lawyer in Louisiana. He has represented clients charged with unlawful communications in many different parishes and cities in Louisiana. He is a criminal defense attorney that is used to helping clients get the best result possible for unlawful communications.

 

What is Unlawful Communications in Louisiana?

Unlawful communications in Louisiana is the former charge of improper telephone communications under La RS 14:285.  The statute was amended in 2018.  One of the amendments was the name change to the following:

La RS 14:285. Unlawful communications; telephones and telecommunications devices; improper language; harassment; penalty

 

Obscene Language Prohibited

The statute states that no person shall:

Engage in or institute a telephone call, telephone conversation, or telephone conference, with another person, or use any telecommunications device to send any text message or other message to another person directly, anonymously or otherwise, and therein use obscene, profane, vulgar, lewd, or lascivious language, or make any suggestion or proposal of an obscene nature or threaten any illegal or immoral act with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass any person.

 

What does this mean?

This provision of the statute basically prohibits anyone from calling or texting anyone else and using bad language.  You also cannot make an obscene proposal such as asking for sex. Finally, the statute makes clear that you cannot threaten an illegal or immoral act with the intent to threaten or coerce another person.  Therefore, it is illegal to contact another person through phone or text and threaten to beat them up.

Repeated Messages Prohibited

The statute states that no person shall:

Make repeated telephone communications or send repeated text messages or other messages using any telecommunications device directly to a person anonymously or otherwise in a manner reasonably expected to abuse, torment, harass, embarrass, or offend another, whether or not conversation ensues.

Most Common Provision

This is the provision most defendants fall under when charged with unlawful communications in Louisiana. Basically, this provision makes it illegal to repeatedly call or text someone in a way that would harass another person.  The statute even states that the message is not required to be repeated, just another message that could harass an individual.   The statute also ends with “whether or not conversation ensues.”  Therefore, if the recipient is responding, it is not a defense.  The prosecutor must prove that the defendant to improper telephone communications was making the unlawful communication in the first place.

Fail to Hang Up Prohibited

The statute states that no person shall:

Make a telephone call and intentionally fail to hang up or disengage the connection.

This provision is straight-forward.  It prohibits anyone from crank-calling another person, which means to call and not say anything. 

 

Minor Present Prohibited

The statute states that no person shall:

Engage in a telephone call, conference, or recorded communication by using obscene language or by making a graphic description of a sexual act, or use any telecommunications device to send any text message or other message containing obscene language or any obscene content, anonymously or otherwise, directly to another person, when the offender knows or reasonably should know that such obscene or graphic language is directed to, or will be heard by, a minor. Lack of knowledge of age shall not constitute a defense.

 

What does this mean?

This provision to unlawful communications was created to protect minors from being exposed to obscene language or graphics.  The offender can be charged under this provision of unlawful communications in Louisiana if it is reasonable that the message he/she sends will be viewed by a minor.  The offender cannot claim that he/she did not know of the minor’s age.  Be careful what you send in a text.

 

Cant’ Permit Another to Use Your Phone

The statute states that no person shall:

Knowingly permit any telephone or any other telecommunications device under his control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this Section.

What does this mean?

This provision of the statute is designed to give prosecutors the ability to charge individuals with unlawful communications if they didn’t make the communication but knew someone else was using their phone, computer, tablet, to make unlawful communications.  So, you may be charged even if you weren’t the one sending the text as long as it can be proven that you knew someone was sending unlawful communications with your phone.   This provision basically eliminates the defense of “oh, someone else used my phone to send that.”  If that defense is used, you must be prepared to call that “someone” to trial so they can be questioned.

 

Where is the Defendant Charged?

Any offense as set forth in this Section shall be deemed to have been committed at either the place where the communication originated or at the place where the communication was received.

This is the jurisdiction statute, meaning that it defines what court the charge can be brought. For example, If the offender sending the text is in Baton Rouge at the time of the text, but the recipient is in Covington, Louisiana, then the charges can be brought in either Baton Rouge or Covington.

 

What are the Penalties for Unlawful Communications?

 
Misdemeanor

Whoever violates the provisions of this Section shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

 
Felony

Upon second or subsequent offenses, the offender shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned with or without hard labor for not more than two years, or both.

 

What is a Telecommunications Device?

For the purposes of this Section, “telecommunications device” shall mean any type of instrument, device, or machine that is capable of transmitting or receiving telephonic, electronic, radio, text, or data communications, including but not limited to a cellular telephone, a text-messaging device, a personal digital assistant, a computer, or any other similar wireless device that is designed to engage in a call or communicate text or data.

 

Louisiana Unlawful Communications Lawyer

Louisiana Unlawful Communications attorney representing clients for improper telephone communications arrests in Louisiana.  If you have been arrested for Unlawful Communications in Louisiana, our criminal attorneys can help.  We have defended thousands of clients charged with criminal charges in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport, Covington, Lafayette and throughout Louisiana.  If you have a Louisiana Unlawful Communications charge and need to hire a defense attorney, contact us.

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Louisiana criminal lawyers and DWI attorneys at the Barkemeyer Law Firm providing legal defense services for clients in Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Port Allen, Alexandria, New Orleans, Lafayette, Metairie, Kenner, Gretna, Hahnville, Chalmette, Slidell, St. Tammany, St. Charles, St. John, St. Bernard, Mandeville, Covington, Shreveport, Bossier, Jefferson, and all of Louisiana.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not formal legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

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