Question: If a person continuously receives prank phone calls, is there a law to
prosecute the prankster?
Answer: We all have received a prank phone call at some point in life, though
such was much more popular in the 1980's and 1990's, before such
good technology existed to track the origin of such. Today most all phones
have traditional caller ID, and even blocking such by dialing *67 will
not prevent law enforcement from locating the guilty party's phone
number, as phone carriers still know who originated the phone call despite
the dialing of *67 and regularly provide such caller ID information to
law enforcement following the issuance of a subpoena to the phone carrier.
In other words, blocking caller ID with *67 will not prevent the phone
carrier from knowing who originated the call, and thus in 2016 it is much
easier to catch someone compared to the 1980's.
Florida statute 365.16 makes it a second degree misdemeanor offense to
continuously harass an individual over the telephone. The statute outlaws
harassment in the form of lewd or obscene comments, as well as general
harassment through continuously making one's phone ring for no legitimate
reason. The law extends to those who knowingly allow someone to use their
phone for the purpose of harassing another, so never loan your phone to
someone whom you know will use such to harass another.
This second degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 60-days in the county
jail, or six months of probation, as well as up to $500.00 in fines and
additional Court costs. If you are adjudicated guilty, then you will actually
have this criminal conviction on your record, meaning you cannot have
your conviction sealed or expunged, and will have to state "yes"
every time you are asked during a job interview whether you have a criminal
Of course, one can also pursue obtaining a civil Restraining Order against
the prankster, which would require the prankster to have no contact with
you via phone, email, or third parties, as well as not to be within a
certain distance of you. If the person violated such, then the person
could be prosecuted for a criminal offense due to violating the civil
Additionally, with the increase in technology, most harassment is now occurring
on the Internet. Florida Statute 748.48 outlaws stalking, including cyber
stalking. Depending upon the facts of the alleged stalking, such as on-line
harassment, threats of violence or actually driving past the victim's
home or entering the workplace, for example, the crime can be anywhere
from a First Degree Misdemeanor up to a 3rd Degree Felony, which means
a felony punishable up to five years in prison or felony probation, as
well as up to $5,000 in Fines plus additional Court Costs.
If you or someone you know has been falsely accused of phone harassment
or stalking, contact my law office today. Do not let such an allegation
result in a criminal conviction, staining your future both professionally
as well as in your personal life. Call (850) 250-3426 and help save your