2002 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Chamberlin
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 97-29-45, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXPAND THE TELEPHONE HARASSMENT LAW TO INCLUDE OBSCENE OR ANNOYING COMMUNICATIONS OVER THE INTERNET AND BY CABLE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 97-29-45, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-29-45. Obscene electronic and telecommunications.
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person or persons:
(a) To make any comment, request, suggestion or proposal by means of telecommunication or electronic communication which is obscene, lewd or lascivious with intent to abuse, threaten or harass any party to a telephone conversation, telecommunication or electronic communication;
(b) To make a telecommunication or electronic communication with intent to terrify, intimidate or harass, and threaten to inflict injury or physical harm to any person * * * or to his property;
(c) To make a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person at the called number;
(d) To make or cause the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at the called number;
(e) To make repeated telephone calls, during which conversation ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number; or
(f) Knowingly to permit a computer or a telephone of any type under his control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section.
(2) Upon conviction of any person for the first offense of violating subsection (1) of this section, such person shall be fined not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than six (6) months, or both.
(3) Upon conviction of any person for the second offense of violating subsection (1) of this section, the offenses being committed within a period of five (5) years, such person shall be fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than one (1) year, or both.
(4) For any third or subsequent conviction of any person violating subsection (1) of this section, the offenses being committed within a period of five (5) years, such person shall be guilty of a felony and fined not more than Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) and/or imprisoned in the State Penitentiary for not more than two (2) years, or both.
(5) The provisions of this section do not apply to a person or persons who make a telephone call that would be covered by the provisions of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USCS Section 1692 et seq.
(6) Any person violating this section may be prosecuted in the county where the telephone call, conversation or language originates in case such call, conversation or language originates in the State of Mississippi. In case the call, conversation or language originates outside of the State of Mississippi then such person shall be prosecuted in the county to which it is transmitted.
(7) For the purposes of this section, "telecommunication" and "electronic communication" mean and include any type of telephonic, electronic or radio communications, or transmission of signs, signals, data, writings, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by telephone, including cellular telephones, wire, cable, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photo-optical system or the creation, display, management, storage, processing, transmission or distribution of images, text, voice, video or data by wire, cable or wireless means, including the Internet.
(8) No person shall be held to have violated this section solely for providing access or connection to telecommunications or electronic communications services where the services do not include the creation of the content of the communication. Companies organized to do business as commercial broadcast radio stations, television stations, telecommunications service providers, Internet service providers, cable service providers or news organizations shall not be criminally liable under this section.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2002.