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How to report harassing text messages to the police

by | Apr 13, 2020 | English |

“Harassment” is legally defined as repeated and unwanted contact. This contact can come in any form, from in-person contact to internet or telephone communications. Text stalking is another form that can be very brutal, emotional, and frightening for the individual being stalked.

Harassment does not have to be threatening to be “harassing”.

It can take the form of abusive messages or “spam” text messages. Regardless of the situation, it is neither legal nor justified and you have the right to take action.

These are the specific steps to follow to report a case of bullying by text message.

1. Save harassment data

Depending on your phone, you can take a “screenshot” of the data. If your phone is not able to do so, you can use a camera to take pictures.

You will also want to “Block” or “Protect” every harassment message. But you still need to make sure you have backups in case something happens to your phone so your data doesn’t get lost.

2. Get your cell phone records

You should be able to log in to your account and download your cell phone records. If you don’t know how to access them, call your phone provider or Google Search “How to get phone records from (your brand/phone model)”. Be sure to save and print records that match the harassment you are experiencing.

I suggest taking a highlighter and highlighting the exact lines in the records that show the harassment.

3. Collect all the evidence

The most important step (in addition to having all your evidence) is to organize it in a way that makes it easier for the police to go through. File folders can help.

Organize all your information by type. For example, one folder will be your photographic evidence, a second folder will be all your printed cell phone records, a third folder may consist of showing all the efforts you have made to stop the harassment; as evidence through a screenshot of you telling the offender to “stop harassing me,” as well as any other effort you may have made.

Another folder may consist of any “history” you have had with the stalker. For example, if the stalker is a former friend or date; Collect evidence of the relationship gone wrong and your decision to terminate the relationship is of great use to the police. Any email correspondence, Facebook messages, or other evidence that you have to prove what led to the harassment is very important.

You can choose to have as many folders as necessary to provide the police with all the evidence regarding your complaint. Be as thorough as possible. If the person harassing you is also harassing others, it is imperative to gather evidence that links everything.

4. Make an index

The above index is an example of what is used in court to provide evidence. As you can see, it is very clear and easy to read. Tag each of your folders to match the content and create an index similar to the previous one that allows detectives to go directly to the folder they need without digging into piles of paper.

TIP: If you need to make “notes”, write them down on a quarter-page piece of paper and then staple the paper to the evidence required by the note. An example of an important “note” would be: “On this page, you will see where Mr. Doe started the harassment. In Folder # 3 you will see that this is the same date I ended my relationship with Mr. Doe”.

I like to use tabs to organize my folders to make it easier to navigate. 

5. Make a matching copy for you

It is mandatory (in my opinion) to make an identical copy of what you are providing to the police. You may not be able to recover the files you gave to the police for a long time (if at all), depending on how far your case goes.

If the police need to talk to you about the evidence, it is very easy to take out your copy and refer to “Folder # 6, page # 4, paragraph # 2” and so on.

Who do you think is more likely to text stalking?

  • An ex
  • A colleague at work
  • Children
  • Your partner’s ex 
  • Other

6. Include your contact information

Be sure to include your contact information in the front of your folder or folder that contains your evidence. Do not limit your contact information to your name and phone number only. Include your address, email and an alternate contact phone number.

If you have information about your stalker (name, nicknames, alias, email, address, etc.), make this your folder. Do not include this on the homepage, as you do not want your evidence to be accidentally returned to your stalker instead of to you.

7. Go to the police

If you know where your stalker resides, you should go to the police in your area, not yours, even if you live in the next town.

When you enter the police station, ask to speak to a detective. You will most likely need to briefly explain your case to the person working in the reception area. When you provide your explanation, be brief and simple.

He speaks clearly and without emotion. Stating things like “John Doe is a stalker and a psychopath who needs to be locked up!” is not effective and will not help you lock him up faster (even if John Doe is a psychopath who needs to be locked up).

Instead, use keywords that explain your problem, such as “John Doe started harassing me severely through text messages on (date). I asked him to stop several times. The harassment has worsened and now I fear for my safety. 

Like the safety of my family. I’ve brought all the corresponding evidence of John’s harassment.

If you can’t talk to a detective, make sure you get a calling card for the officer and the detective. If business cards are not available, record the officer’s name and the detective’s name, as well as the detective’s phone number.

As long as the harassment does not worsen “(which means that John Doe does not pose a threat like” I will kill you tonight “), wait a few days and then follow up directly with the detective.

Unfortunately, many cities and/or states are still learning how to address cyberbullying, Internet bullying, SMS / text messaging, etc. The reason for this is because before the Internet became a tool to harass and threaten, the police were given “jurisdictions” and each law enforcement agency operated within its jurisdiction.

When a “crime” occurs on the Internet, many law enforcement officials do not know how to address the problem specifically since the crime occurred online. “Cyberspace” is not in a specific jurisdiction.

If in doubt, please contact a lawyer such as the team working with Carlos Corless and they will help you with your case.