New Law Would Make Annoying Calls a Misdemeanor in Virginia

Bill would stiffen penalties for telephone stalking

By Caitlin O'Brien
|  Wednesday, Jan 4, 2012  |  Updated 1:09 PM EDT
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Prank callers and texters in Virginia, beware. An interesting bill is up for debate in the Virginia General Assembly that would make it a misdemeanor to intentionally annoy someone by making a cell phone ring.

Delegate Bob Tata from Virginia Beach is sponsoring the bill. It states that someone who causes a phone to ring or signal, with the intention of annoying, not communicating, could be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable with up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.  The same goes for people who allow their phones to be used in the same manner by another person.

The Virginia-Pilot reports the bill was motivated by the case of a Virginia man who used his phone to harass several Virginia Beach area women, calling the women's homes and cell phones repeatedly.  Even after receiving court fines for the calls, the man continued his "telephone stalking" campaign.  The new bill would allow judges to dole out another level of punishment in such cases.

Another portion of the proposed bill attempts to protect fire police and emergency medical services from receiving unnecessary calls. It states that a person who causes a phone or device used for receiving emergency calls by on-duty emergency personnel with the intent to annoy, harass, delay or hinder the emergency personnel's performance, would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Someone who allows their phone to be used for that purpose would also be guilty of the same thing.

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