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Q: Defamation, criminal harassment in Texas ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Question  
Subject: Defamation, criminal harassment in Texas
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: professional123-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 17 Aug 2006 14:12 PDT
Expires: 16 Sep 2006 14:12 PDT
Question ID: 757101
I work in a retail business and manage about 150 employees.  Recently
my significant other's child's mother has been to my place of work and
spoken with my employees.  She stated how she knew me, asked my
employees if they like working with me, and told them that she cannot
stand me.  Two of my employees have mentioned this to me in the past
week. From what I know, she has been to my business at least 3 times
in the last 2 weeks and had discussions with my employees. I did not
ask my employees to give me much additional information, it was quite
an uncomfortable conversation.  I know that she stated "I cannot stand
her" and went into our previous personal history a bit.  After telling
me, one of my employees stated that he thought he should tell me "for
my own safety". She previously stated to me and to her child's father
that she would "Do whatever she could to make my life and my
daughter's life(I have a child as well) miserable if I did not stop
seeing her child's father.". I also have this in email.  My
significant other and her were never married, nor am I or have I ever
been.  I also have emails stating that she is not going to let the
child see her father, and that I am the reason behind the child not
seeing him. I have numerous emails from her received in the past year
that support her intentions are malicious when having conversations
with my employees.  During one of her visits to my business, she made
a negative comment about the way my business was running(staffing-
which is my responsibility) to one of my assistant managers (the
assistant manager stated was one of the employees that came to me with
this information).  I need to know what legal action I can take at
this point.  I have heard I should send a "letter of cease and
dissist". By reading her previous emails and also recalling many phone
calls it is hard to believe that
her statements to my employees were merely phrased as opinion, because
she is usually very emotional and lacks self control. I replied to her
last email asking her to not send me any more hateful mail or call
expecting me to listen to such. This was about 3 weeks ago.

Should I ask my employees for statements? I do not want to involve
them in my personal life, but she has already done so.  And as their
manager I do not want them to feel that I may punish them for not
giving me information or not remembering if that ends up to be the
case.  They did, however, come to me with this initially.

Should I send a letter of cease and dissist? If so, where can I get
more information on how to do so? Do I have a defamation or criminal
harassment case according to the state of Texas?
Answer  
Subject: Re: Defamation, criminal harassment in Texas
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 18 Aug 2006 07:02 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
 
Dear professional123-ga;

Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question. As you
will note from our disclaimer we cannot offer legal advice in this
forum. What we can do however is point out published information
concerning the subject of your question. As with all questions of a
legal nature you should contact an attorney for best results. With
that out of the way let me show you what is published:

First of all it is clear, in my opinion, that you do not have a valid
complaint for stalking (Section 42.072, Texas Penal Code). Under Texas
law the act of stalking is committed if, on more than one occasion,
pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed
SPECIFICALLY AT another person, a person knowingly engages in conduct,
including following the other person, that the actor knows or
reasonably believes the other person will regard as threatening, or
commits bodily injury or death for the other person, bodily injury or
death for a member of the other person's family or household or
against the other person's property.

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/PE/content/htm/pe.009.00.000042.00.htm#42.072.00

Since this act was not directed specifically AT YOU, the criterion for
this crime has not been established.

As for you question about defamation, the Texas Penal Code covers only
libel, which is not spoken defamation but printed defamation.
Obviously what this person did does not fall under the auspices of
this statute (Chapter 73, Civil Practice & Remedies Code) unless the
electronic communication you have was sent to someone other than
yourself. In other words, the elements of this crime are not met
unless the person made WRITTEN defamatory statements to someone else
ABOUT you, and not exclusively TO you:

?73.001. ELEMENTS OF LIBEL.  A libel is a defamation expressed in
written or other graphic form that tends to blacken the memory of the
dead or that tends to injure a living person's reputation and thereby
expose the person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or financial
injury or to impeach any person's honesty, integrity, virtue, or
reputation or to publish the natural defects of anyone and thereby
expose the person to public hatred, ridicule, or financial injury.?

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/CP/content/htm/cp.004.00.000073.00.htm#73.001.00

I believe you DO have a case of Criminal Harassment (Section 42.07,
Texas Penal Code).  Under Texas law harassment is committed when a
person initiates communication by telephone, in writing, or by
electronic communication with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse,
torment, or embarrass another. This statute may not cover the incident
where the actor came to your place of business and spoke badly of you
to others, but it certainly seems to fit the elements of the crime in
terms of sending you unwanted emails in an effort to ?harass, annoy,
alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass? you.

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/PE/content/htm/pe.009.00.000042.00.htm#42.07.00

What you MAY also have is a case of Terroristic Threat (Section 22.07,
Texas Penal Code). A person commits this act if (among other things)
he or she threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any
person or property with intent to (paragraph 2) place any person in
fear of imminent serious bodily injury, or (paragraph 3) prevent or
interrupt the occupation or use of a?place of employment.

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/PE/content/htm/pe.005.00.000022.00.htm#22.07.00

The reason I say that you ?MAY have? such a case is because the
determination as to the viability of criminal cases is determined by
investigating law enforcement and ultimately the District Attorney?s
Office (aka Prosecuting Attorney). The final decision as to whether an
offense occurred under the statute would have to be made by these
authorities. If in fact it is determined that such a criminal offense
occurred, this may qualify you for a restraining order (aka protective
order) that will effectively bar the actor under penalty of law from
future contact with you (either permanently or temporarily) or from
conveying such threats to you via third parties.

Having more than 25 years of law enforcement experience myself, I
recommend that you first contact the authorities and make an official
police report of the incident. Be prepared to supply copies of all the
emails you received from this person. You will probably be asked if
you wish to pursue criminal charges. If you indicate that you do wish
to press charges the case and the evidence will probably be forwarded
to the District Attorney for review to see if the elements of the act
statutorily fit the elements of the crime. If so, the case will be
prosecutable and the judicial system can proceed. This will probably
result in a summons or warrant being issued to the actor to appear in
court and answer for his or her actions.

As I said earlier, you should probably consult an attorney, but in my
unlicensed opinion it is probably not wise to initiate contact with
this person (cease and desist letter, etc) lest you risk the counter
claim that is ?you? who is harassing ?her?. What you ?might do? is
(with the blessing if the business owner) consider having an attorney
draft a letter instructing this person to refrain from entering the
business and have that delivered to her via certified mail. If she
returns to the business AFTER being warned not to she is subject to an
additional charge of Criminal Trespass (Section 30.05, Texas Penal
Code).

?A person commits an offense [of Criminal Trespass] if he enters or
remains on or in property, including an aircraft or other vehicle, of
another without effective consent or
he enters or remains in a building of another without effective
consent and he (1) had notice that the entry was forbidden??

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/PE/content/htm/pe.007.00.000030.00.htm#30.05.00

I strongly recommend you contact the authorities as soon as possible
and make a report ? and let THEM handle it. Thereafter it may also be
wise to consult a licensed attorney for advice and further legal
assistance, but in my opinion it would be wise for now to refrain from
initiating contact on your own and to allow the authorities to gather
any statements necessary to prosecute the case.

I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher



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Request for Answer Clarification by professional123-ga on 18 Aug 2006 08:51 PDT
The emails were sent to me and to my significant other. Would this
make it libel?  She has also written statements about me on her public
BLOG online for the past year(she has told me this). In the last 2
months she has made it private. She did not state my last name, but
when you put all the peices together I dont think it would be hard to
figure out, especially for those that live in the same town. She
publicly displays where she lives. I am also involved in many
community events. Furthermore, when she comes into my business she
asks if I am working.

I will not be asing my business to take any action.  I will most
likely report to the DA, I have all fo the past emails.

Clarification of Answer by tutuzdad-ga on 18 Aug 2006 11:37 PDT
In my opinion such acts certainly fit the criteria for  73.001.
ELEMENTS OF LIBEL. But then again, as I said, it is best to have an
attorney interpret these acts against state law to be certain. Since
our policy prohibits me from pointing a guilty finger and only allows
me to point out facts of published law, I am unable to say
definitively that this person is guilty of a crime. However, it
doesn't take a law professor to read the facts (as you have described
them) and apply them to the written state statutes to suggest that
something is certainly amiss here and that you may indeed have a
viable criminal of civil case should you choose to pursure it with the
help of an attorney.

Regards;
tutuzdad-ga
professional123-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thank you for all of your help. I now know where to go from here.

Comments  
Subject: Re: Defamation, criminal harassment in Texas
From: markvmd-ga on 17 Aug 2006 19:30 PDT
 
Her actions border on stalking. Get a restraining order that includes
your place of employ even if you are not there. Have your employees
contact the police if she returns. Inform the court that oversees her
access to her child of her actions and demand supervised visitation
and/or supervised transfers (police stations are wonderful places for
this).

Conversely, is your boyfriend really worth this drama?

Beyond seeking professional legal advice, you ought to go into
therapy. You've got a child from a previous failed relationship, he
does as well, so you both aren't any real prizewinners. Might as well
see if you can make it work properly this time before there's another
child involved.
Subject: Re: Defamation, criminal harassment in Texas
From: professional123-ga on 18 Aug 2006 09:09 PDT
 
She is th custodial parent, he has visitation which was determined
through a mediator, and is legal. The comments mads about keeping the
child from him have been addressed.

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