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Is making prank calls a criminal offense?

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2023 | Criminal Defense

During an uneventful day, some people — usually teenagers — engage in what they feel is harmless fun, like making prank calls. While many unlucky targets on the receiving end of these calls find them merely annoying, others feel like crime victims. This begs the question of whether prank calls can warrant criminal prosecution.

It depends. While most people can brush off a one-time cliché “running refrigerator” joke, certain prank calls can land you in legal hot water. Below are four types of illegal phone calls.

Swatting

When someone engages in swatting, they call 911 on an innocent individual to get a SWAT team to show up at said individual’s residence. Years ago, a SWAT team showed up at celebrity Miley Cyrus’ house in response to a false emergency, but no one was home.

Harassment

Per New Hampshire Law, Revised Statutes Annotated 644:4, calling a person with the intent of annoying or threatening them — especially if done repeatedly — is phone harassment and counts as a misdemeanor. For example, a caller dials someone’s number and says, “It’s 4 am. Do you know where your children are?” Then, they hang up and continue doing this over and over again every five minutes.

Bomb threats

Bomb threats can happen anywhere, but they typically occur in school settings. Some students make phony bomb threats because they enjoy seeing their fellow students and teachers distressed over nothing. Others do it in hopes of ending the school day early.

Disorderly conduct

A phone prank is considered disorderly conduct when the purpose of a call is to spite someone. For instance, an individual hurls verbal abuse at their boss while speaking in a disguised voice.

If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, then it’s important to come up with a defense strategy. Seeking legal guidance will help you to take the appropriate steps. 

 

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