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Unlawful Communication Charge in SC: What is it?

Repeated texts from the ex continue to blow up your phone. You just can’t take it anymore and decide to put a stop to the mobile madness. You send a text in the heat of the moment…

“Text me again, and I will make sure you have no fingers left for texting.”

Just an innocent threat to teach the ex a lesson, right? Maybe not. Both your ex’s repeated texts and your threat to remove a few fingers could be grounds for an unlawful communication charge.

Wait a minute. Is “unlawful communication” even a real charge?

According to South Carolina law, yes it is. In fact, an unlawful communication charge can land you in some serious trouble—and possibly behind bars.

Let’s find out which scenarios could get you entangled with an unlawful communication charge and how this charge can impact you and your future.

The Charge

There are six ways you could be in violation of the law and find yourself facing an unlawful communication charge.

Sending obscene messages

Sending an email, text message or a message by other electronic means to someone and using unwelcome lewd, lascivious, vulgar, profane, indecent or suggestive language is an example of messaging that counts as unlawful communication in SC.

Threatening illegal acts

A threat is a threat—even when delivered electronically. If your intent is to coerce, harass or intimidate someone, and you pick up your phone and follow through with a threat of illegal activity, you may face an unlawful communication charge.

The example above about losing fingers would fit here.

Harassing through repeated contact attempts

Harassing someone doesn’t necessarily mean actually speaking to them. Harassment can occur through electronic means, whether through phone, email or other electronic means. Sending text after text, even if you don’t speak to the person you are trying to communicate with, can lead to fines, even jail time.

The ex in the example above would fall under this part of the unlawful communication law.

Interfering with phone service

Did you know that calling someone and leaving the phone line open so as to interfere with their phone service is illegal in SC? Intentionally trying to make it impossible for another person to receive other calls by tying up their phone line has serious legal consequences.

Making false statements

When you’re mad at someone, you want to strike them where it hurts. But if you ever decide to use electronic means to make a false statement about the injury or death of someone’s family member with the intent to irritate, scare or terrify them, you could be charged with unlawful communication.

Allowing illegal use of your phone

Say you’re completely neutral in an argument between two people, but you allow a friend to use your phone to threaten another person. Before you hand your phone over, know that you will be held responsible for any prohibited communication on your phone under the unlawful communication law.

If any of the above scenarios sound familiar or if you’ve already been charged with unlawful communication, you could face some serious penalties.

The Penalties

Threatening, harassing, terrorizing or scaring someone through communication is taken very seriously in South Carolina. And the penalties reflect the severity of this charge.

 Classification  Fine Jail
 Misdemeanor  $100 – 500  Up to 30 days

*If convicted, you could receive a fine or jail time, but not both.

While the penalties for unlawful communication aren’t as bad as those for weed possession or robbery, a conviction will leave a lasting mark on your record.

How you’re sentenced will be left up to judicial discretion. In short, judicial discretion allows the judge presiding over your case to determine your sentence–without being bound by strict statutes or precedents. Hiring a good, knowledgeable attorney can make a difference in the outcome of your case.

Why Hire a Lawyer for a Misdemeanor Charge?

Because the outcome of your case involves judicial discretion, your decision to fight your case yourself or hire a lawyer can mean the difference between a conviction or walking away free and clear. A lawyer will have the opportunity and knowledge of the law to be able to successfully make a strong case for you. He or she will know what arguments will work in your favor, such as your schooling, employment, and/or family ties.

Remember a conviction of even a misdemeanor means you will have a criminal record that can be held against you in the future. For example, if you face additional convictions or arrests, you will have a prior offense. Convictions of misdemeanors mean so much more than a simple fine or a few weeks of jail time. Your current and future employment opportunities could be impacted, as well as your relationships with friends and family members.

Don’t Chance your Future

Handling a “simple” misdemeanor charge all on your own may sound like a good idea, but don’t take a chance on your future. Give Kent Collins a call at 803-808-0905 for a free consultation, or contact us through our online form.

We’re here to fight for your future and good standing.

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