Broader definition of harrassment to arrive with new bill
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Broader definition of harrassment to arrive with new bill

Date: March 4, 2008
By: Rebecca Layne
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 1852

Intro: Someone swearing at a friend could be charged with harrassment and a class D felony if Republican Representative Joe Smith's bill gets passed. Rebecca Layne has more from Jefferson City. RunTime:0:03
OutCue: SOC
Representative Smith's bill would expand harrassment to include unwanted communications with another person and knowingly using coarse language or expressions that are offensive to the average sensibility. If a person is 21 or older and is accused of harrassing someone 17 or younger, that person could be convicted of a class D felony and sentenced to up to four years in jail. John Coffman, registered lobbyist of the ACLU, says that this bill would violate free speech.
Actuality:  COFFMAN.WAV
Run Time: 00:08
Description: Our concern is with regards to the first amendment and concerns that some parts may go too far. In fact, to the point where they are overbroad and unconstitutional.


 Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Rebecca Layne. 


Intro: Those accused of harrassment could receive harsher punishments with Republican Representative Joe Smith's bill. Rebecca Layne has more from Jefferson City.

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OutCue: SOC

Harrassment of a person who is 17 years or younger by an individual 21 or older would be changed from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony.

Smith's bill arrives on the heels of the 2006 suicide of a St. Charles County teen who was cyberbullied.

Pam Fogarty, mayor of Dardenne Prairie, says it is not only kids who need help from harrassment.

 

Actuality:  FOGARTY.WAV
Run Time: 00:17
Description: I've had adults call me saying that they are having these problems. They're being harrassed on the internet, they have gone to the local authorities and they're just told 'there is nothing we can do'. They have no way to make it stop. They are virtually in tears as they are talking to me saying 'Mayor Fogarty, can you please help me?'

Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Rebecca Layne.
 


Intro: Course language and unwanted communications could be considered harrassment and a class D felony with Republican Representative Joe Smith's proposed bill. Rebecca Layne has more from Jefferson City. RunTime:0:48
OutCue: SOC

Smith's bill would broaden the definition of harrassment to include repeated, unwanted communications with another person or the use of coarse language.

If the harrasser is over 21 and the victim is under 17, this could be considered a class D felony and could result in four years in jail.

Mark Richardson, a Cole County prosecuting attorney, says the bill expands the definition so online communication could be considered harrassment.

Actuality:  RICHARDS.WAV
Run Time: 00:12
Description: What this law does in that regard is changes it so now if you text messaged or if you used the instant messenging capabilities of a computer, things like that, this law takes the old law and updates it with today's technology.


Richardson says this law would apply to juveniles and adults. Juveniles would be referred to juvenile court instead of jail.

Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Rebecca Layne.