Parent Use of Electronics to Harass a Minor

If a parent has an issue with a juvenile who may be causing their child distress, they should refrain from using the internet, text messages, or other means of electronics to angrily communicate to the youth since it is against the law to harass a minor in Utah.

Mama bear

Do Not harass a minor

Photo by: Max Goldberg

Parents have a way of finding themselves knee deep in the drama their kids bring home and can often get too involved. If a parent is upset with another child or teenager on behalf of their child, there are ways to express their feelings without breaking the law. Speaking to the other child’s parents is a respectable step or informing or school officials is recommended if something upsetting took place on campus or at a school-sponsored function. Often however, parents wish to speak directly to the minor in which they can do easily over the internet or by text message. This action however can land the adult in hot water.

Electronic communication harassment

Utah Code 76-9-201 states “ a person is guilty of electronic communication harassment and subject to prosecution in the jurisdiction where the communication originated or was received if with intent to annoy, alarm, intimidate, offend, abuse, threaten, harass, frighten, or disrupt the electronic communications of another, the person:”

• Repeatedly attempts to contact the recipient via electronic device after being asked to refrain communications,

(or through the use of an electronic device)
• “insults, taunts, or challenges the recipient” in an attempt to provoke violence;

• “threatens to inflict injury, physical harm, or damage to any person or the property of any person;

• Causes disruption, jamming, or overload of electronic communication system through excessive message traffic ( . . . )”

Penalties to electronically harass a minor

Photo by: Alassandro Valli

Photo by: Alassandro Valli

Utah law states it is a class B misdemeanor for an adult to harass another adult via electronic device. If an adult chooses to harass a minor, those charges are increased to a class A misdemeanor for the first violation of electronic communication harassment against a minor or a third degree felony if it wasn’t the first time the adult had decided to harass a minor. This law applies to all adults including overly-protective parents and even older siblings who are 18 years of age or older who may harass a minor on behalf of their younger siblings. For more information on charges stemming from electronic communication harassment, contact a criminal defense attorney.