Each January, it’s fun to watch the progress of bills that get introduced in the Virginia General Assembly. Some just get sidelined in a sub-committee and never see the light of day on the voting floor.
Virginia Beach Delegate, Bob Tata, decided that he wanted to toughen up a bill relating to phone call harassment. Currently, the Virginia Code does have a law on the books that already punishes intentional phone harassment, by a fine.
Bob Tata decided that he wanted the law to be stronger. So, he introduced House Bill (HB) 39, that makes “telephone stalking” punishable with up to six months in prison and a fine of $1,000. I have pasted the law with the introduced changes, at the bottom of the blog. Basically, “shall” is replaced by “is” guilty, and includes the jail punishment.
After the bill was introduced, it was then assigned to the House Courts of Justice. From there, it was assigned to sub-committee. On January 23, it got voted out of the committee by a 9-0 vote. It may make it to the floor.
The intent of the law is to stop nuisance calls. On the surface, who doesn’t want an “ex” or someone mentally disturbed to stop calling. I have copied the bill/law, because it does seem to be a bit over-broad. I mean, caller i.d. and phone numbers notification while watching your TV, are popular technology because we all get annoyed by too many calls.
No, I don’t want to participate in a political survey; and, I’m not interested in having my carpet shampooed. See, does that repeated calling fall within the framework of “purposely triggers audible phone or pager alerts to disturb others?” I mean, my cell phone company keeps sending message opportunities. Opportunities that aren’t that interesting. I guess they didn’t activate their phones just to annoy me, so they are probably OK by the law.
I know, I’m looking at it like a lawyer. The second paragraph of the law/bill deals with pestering 911. You know, if you’re angry at the person in the parking lot because they are parked too close to your car, you can’t threaten them and call 911 to complain that they don’t know how to park.
One final note on this. I guess Bob Tata probably wouldn’t want us to call his home multiple times and thank him…. would he? Is that an annoyance?
IF YOU MADE IT THIS FAR, HERE”S THE LAW WITH PROPOSED CHANGES (in parenthesis):
18-429. Causing telephone or pager to ring with intent to annoy.Any person who, with or without intent to communicate but with intent to annoy any other person, causes any telephone or digital pager, not his own, to ring or to otherwise signal, and any person who permits or condones the use of any telephone under his control for such purpose shall be, (is) guilty of a Class 3 (2 )misdemeanor
Any person who, with or without intent to converse, but with intent to annoy, harass, hinder or delayemergency personnel in the performance of their duties as such, causes a telephone to ring, which is owned or leased for the purpose of receiving emergency calls by a public or private entity providing fire, police or emergency medical service, and any person who knowingly permits the use of a telephone under his control for such purpose, shall be (is) guilty of a Class 1
And now, pic o day….. a family picture that looks a bit out of control.