I’ve been asked this question enough that I thought it merited a short blog post. Is there anything “legally” that can be done to stop a soon-to-be-ex-spouse or their new love interest from sending annoying or harassing texts or phone calls? Yes, on both the civil and criminal sides of the law.
On the civil side, if it’s the soon-to-be-ex-spouse (i.e. the other party in divorce litigation), an enforcement action can be brought for violation of temporary injunctions that prohibit that sort of conduct. If found in “contempt,” the court can order fines up to $500; jail time up to 180 days; and/or, payment of attorney’s fees.
On the criminal side, a complaint can be made to the police (please call the non-emergency number) about “harassment” under the Texas Penal Code Section 42.07. For example, Section 42.07 states that a person commits an offense “if, with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment or embarrass another person, the person…sends repeated electronic communications [which includes text messages, emails and phone calls]…in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend” another person. If prosecuted by the DA’s office and found guilty, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $2,000; jail up to 180 days; or, both.
Author Jim Cramp is a retired active duty colonel and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm. The Cramp Law Firm provides a spectrum of family-related legal services in the greater San Antonio Region.