So you think you have a crazy Ex? Chances are you have nothing on a 45 year old New Castle, Pennsylvania man who was subjected to approximately 1,200 phone calls since breaking up with a woman who can be described as something that rhymes with “cat sit lazy.” Lisa Jones did not only call her ex-boyfriend, but also called his place of employment and his landlord, when she could not get through to him. She allegedly called him 400 times on just one day.
Jones is charged with harassment by communication pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. §2709(a)(7). Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Crimes code, harassment can take various forms. Harassment by communication involves intending to harass, alarm or annoy another, by 1) communicating with someone in a lewd, lascivious, threatening manner, or through obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures; 2) communicating repeatedly in an anonymous manner (the classic routine of calling someone and then hanging up the phone or refusing to identify oneself); 3) communicating repeatedly at extremely inconvenient hours; or 4) communicating repeatedly in manner not specified by the other forms of harassment by communication.
Harassment by communication is a third degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year of incarceration or probation and a fine of up to $2,500. A judge could also order a defendant convicted of such an offense to undergo a mental health evaluation and follow through with any recommended treatment. In my experience as a defense attorney, most men who are victims of harassment by ex-girlfriends simply want the ex to get help, while the typical female victim tends to be very fearful of an ex-boyfriend who cannot let go. Thus, female victims are much more likely to seek a protection from abuse (PFA) order.
Ms. Jones is charged with the most general form of harassment by communication. There is no set cut-off for the number of times a defendant must contact someone, who clearly does not want to be contacted, before it becomes harassment, but certainly 1,200 times would satisfy any judge or jury’s interpretation of the statute.
Ms. Jones was staying at a shelter for “women in crisis” at the time charges were filed. I think it is safe to speculate that she has some underlying mental health issues, which drove her inappropriate behavior. Certain personality disorders immediately come to mind. Hopefully, she can get some help.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania. He limits his practice to criminal law matters. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Choosing-the-Right-Lawyer.shtml