Although making prank calls seems like harmless fun, especially for children, they may also result in criminal charges. According to California law, it is against the law to make any contact with another individual that uses “obscene” language or threatens the person, their loved ones, or their property.
In order to be convicted of the crime, the prosecutor needs to prove the following:
- Called or established electronic communication (e.g. texting, e-mailing, messaging through social media platforms, etc.) with another person
- The purpose of the call or communication was to annoy that person
- The defendant either used obscene language during the communication or made a threat to someone, their family, or their property.
Additionally, it is illegal to make repeated contact with the intention to annoy another person. The prosecution must prove that the defendant made repeated—at least two—calls or electronic communication to another individual and he/she intended to annoy or harass that person.
Obscene language consists of language that any reasonable person would find offensive. Although the law doesn't define what is considered as “annoying,” the court must take into account the caller's objective when initiating contact.
Making an illegal prank call is a misdemeanor. If convicted of this crime, a person can face up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
If you have been charged with committing an illegal prank call, it is imperative to obtain experienced legal counsel to protect your rights and future. Your criminal defense lawyer can raise several potential defenses, such as the fact that the communication was not obscene or you did not intend to annoy the other individual.