Telephone Threats and Abuse Law and Legal Definition

Telephone abuse is a problem that seldom results in physical harm, but can be very disturbing. Many states have laws, which vary by state, making telephone threats a crime, with at least one state making it a felony. If your telephone doesn't have caller i.d., you may immediately dial *69 to attempt to track where the call came from. Some suggestions to prevent harassing, anonymous, obscene or annoying telephone calls include:

  • Do not talk back to the abuser.
  • Hang up if the caller does not say anything, on the first obscene word, or if the caller does not provide identification to your satisfaction.
  • Do not slam down the receiver or otherwise indicate that the call bothers you, just hang up, as you would normally do.

If a bomb threat is received, a person should immediately implement an evacuation plan. No one should attempt to search for a bomb. Evacuation plans should not include two way radios or cell phones as they could trigger a device.

The following is an example of a state law dealing with telephone threats:

Threat or harassment in telephone communication prohibited; directory notice.

No person shall, while communicating with any other person over a telephone, threaten to do bodily harm or use or address to such other person any words or language of a lewd, lascivious, or indecent character, nature, or connotation for the sole purpose of annoying such other person; nor shall any person telephone any other person repeatedly or cause any person to be telephoned repeatedly for the sole purpose of harassing or molesting such other person or his family.

Any use, communication, or act prohibited by this section may be deemed to have occurred or to have been committed at either the place at which the telephone call was made or was received.

Every telephone directory distributed to the general public in this state which lists the calling numbers of telephones of any telephone exchange located in this state shall contain a notice which explains the offenses provided for in this section, such notice to be printed in type which is not smaller than the general body of the other type on the same page and to be preceded by the word "warning" printed in type with at least equal prominence as the headings of other regulations or information on the same page; provided, that the provision of this section shall not apply to those directories distributed solely for business advertising purposes, commonly known as classified directories, nor to any telephone directory distributed or for which copy has been sent to the printer or is in the process of printing or distribution to the general public prior to August 14, 1959.

Any person, firm, or corporation providing telephone service which distributes or causes to be distributed in this state one or more copies of a telephone directory which is subject to the provisions of this section and which willfully omits such notice is guilty of a violation of this section.