Judge Issues Temporary Protection Order for Harassing Texts
Law Office of Tzvi Y. Hagler
A New York issued a temporary protection order against Daniel Meredith, a father from Queens, for sending his former wife more than 5,000 texts in a year. The terms of the protection order limited Meredith to one text per day and allowed him to speak to his children once an evening for fifteen minutes using the FaceTime app.
The judge was reported to have characterized Meredith’s conduct as “harassment,” noting that a daily average of 14 texts was “beyond normal communication.”
What Is a Temporary Protection Order?
Under Section 828 of the Family Court Act, a court may issue a temporary protection order “for good cause shown” to prevent violence within members of a family or other intimate relationship.
Regarding family violence, a protection order involves the following relationships:
- Current or former spouses
- Parents of a child common to both
- Blood relatives
- Persons who are or were formerly in an intimate relationship
A temporary protection order imposes a legal obligation on someone to act, or refrain from acting, in a certain way. This includes ordering someone to stay away from another family member or their children, moving out of their home, paying child support, or to not possess a firearm. Temporary protection orders may also restrict someone’s contact with the protectee, including telephone calls, emails, and text messages.
Importantly, a party can obtain a temporary protection order without satisfying conventional due process requirements for notice and a hearing to prevent some impending harm. Simply put, you can ask the court to grant a protection order without first giving the opposing party an opportunity to be heard. Later, the court will hear arguments from the opposing party as to whether to sustain the temporary order in emergency situations.
However, when a court issues a temporary protection order, it is not considered to be a judgment of wrongdoing. This is because temporary protection orders may be granted after hearing only one side to the story.
The violation of a protection order may result in criminal penalties.
Harassment Through Texts
Certainly, a barrage of texts that threatens harm or incessantly demeans another person can be characterized as harassment. However, does the mere quantity or frequency of texting inherently suggest harassment?
In response to the temporary protection order, Meredith argued that his ability to communicate with his children’s nanny has been hindered by the order. Further, Meredith argued that an annual rate of 5,000 texts is less than the average texting rate for members in his age group—35 to 44 year-olds.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2010 adults aged 35 to 44 sent and received a median number of roughly 50 texts a day, for an annual median of more than 18,000 texts sent and received. It is reasonable to believe that rate has increased since 2010.
Today, many people primarily communicate using some form of text messaging. It is not uncommon for people to use text messaging to speak with baby sitters, nannies or other childcare service professionals. Thus, if the sheer volume of texting could inherently suggest harassment, it would have to be an incredibly massive number
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If you are facing an intense legal dispute involving family law, you should get in touch with an experienced attorney from the Law Office of Tzvi Y. Hagler. Our legal team their skill and knowledge of New York domestic relations law to resolve your family law dispute in a just and reasonable way. We have offices located across New York, including the counties of Queens, Rockland, Manhattan, and Westchester.
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