Stalking and Harassment in Custody/Divorce cases

What constitutes Stalking and/or Harassment in divorce or custody cases? Stalking and Harassment are both criminal acts, defined in the Texas Penal Code sections 42.07 and 42.072. B

Stalking is defined as when a person, on more than one occasion, knowingly engages in conduct that they know the other party will regard as threatening injury to the person or a member of their family, household, pets, or property. A reasonable person standard is applied, meaning that a reasonable person would need to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, embarrassed, or offended.

Harassment is defined as when a person, with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, torment, or embarrass another, they: made obscene comments; threats of violence; give false details to another of the party’s serious injury; repeated calls/texts/messages that are harassing or annoying; or directs others to repeatedly call/text/message in a harassing or annoying manner. Intent of the perpetrator is the focus, and it can be inferred from their actions alone.

Note: Courts have found social media posts, even though not addressed directly at the other party, to be sufficient to violate these statutes.

Engaging in these activities is usually enough to warrant a police report, possible criminal punishments, and/or protective orders. Those who feel they might be receiving such communications should first warn the offending party that you will report their actions to police. If that does not end the harassing behavior then police, County Attorney’s office, or other law enforcement should be contacted to file a report. These crimes are some of the harder ones to prosecute, so unfortunately it takes a lot or actions that are particularly egregious to warrant more than a report being taken. Document as much as possible, and report as much as possible so the activities will eventually be seen as going to far with local law enforcement. A private Protective Order can also be requested through a private attorney if you feel law enforcement officers are not handling the problem. A Judge may feel a Protective Order is justified, and if that is violated much harsher punishments are levied against the perpetrator.

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