Lawmakers Want To Make It Easier To Charge Those Who Threaten Others Via Phone, Computer


UPDATED: Wednesday February 27, 2013 5:46 PM

They can be annoying, threatening and, in some cases, they seem to never stop.

Telephone and text message harassment has become such a problem in Ohio that one lawmaker wants to make it easier to charge those accused of threatening others via phone, fax or computer.

James Collins said his phone constantly rings from someone threatening to harm him.

“They say they know where I live, they want to break into my home, they want to kill me, they want to send me to the hospital,” said 46-year-old Collins.

Collins said the harassment is so bad that he has not been able to sleep.

“At night, I’m awake all night fearing someone will break a  window,” Collins said.

He said the harassment began months ago and does not have any clue why someone is calling him.

“It’s the same voice every time,” Collins said.

Republican State Rep. Marlene Anielski said she has a plan to help people like Collins.

“It’s a problem, and people don’t know where to turn,” Anielski said.

On Wednesday, she re-introduced a bill she hopes will provide relief to Ohioans threatened not just over the phone but by any form of electronic communications.

“There’s a lot of bullying going on in schools,” Anielski said. “There’s a lot of bullying going on in the workplace, and we need to protect the victims.’
 
The lawmaker said that under the current law, the crime of menacing does not include emotional or physical distress. She said that it makes it harder for prosecutors to file charges.

Under her bill, H.B. 74, that would change.

“If there is a continued pattern from a perpetrator to the victim and things are documented and you go through the proper channel, that person could be arrested,” Anielski said.

Collins said that he wants to put an end to the phone threats and the sleepless nights wondering if someone is going to hurt him.

Anielski said H.B. 74 was inspired by a couple near Cleveland who told the lawmaker about a neighbor how threatened them via fax and even hung effigies of them in a tree.

When they went to file charges, authorities told them that they could not do anything because there was no evidence of physical harm.

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