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Senate Bill 1262 — Harassment, telecommunications

Senate Bill 1262 — Harassment, telecommunications

by
Parrish Miller
February 5, 2024

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1262 would expand government prohibitions against annoying someone via a telephone to include emails, text messaging, and other forms of electronic communication. 

Rating: -1

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?

Section 18-6710, Idaho Code, currently criminalizes using "obscene, lewd or profane language" or making a "request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious or indecent" over a telephone to "annoy, terrify, threaten, intimidate, harass or offend" another person. 

Senate Bill 1262 would expand these government prohibitions to include using "telecommunication, email, text message, or any other form of electronic communication" to commit the same offense. This is a significant expansion of the law's scope, given the pervasiveness and variable subject matter of email. 

The scope of the communication that is criminalized under this law is also incredibly broad because there is a considerable difference between threatening or harassing someone and merely annoying or offending them. 

The penalty for violating this law is up to 1 year of incarceration for a first offense and up to 5 years’ imprisonment for a second or subsequent offense. This is a very severe penalty that imposes a significant cost on taxpayers and does nothing to restore a victim who has suffered real intimidation or harassment. 

Under the provisions and penalties of this expanded law, sending a single email deemed "lewd" that a recipient finds "annoying" could subject the sender to a year behind bars. Sending a second such email could result in 5 years in a state prison. 

(-1)

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