There’s No Phone Pranking in Prison

12/7/2016 - Article by Nevada criminal defense attorney Nick Wooldridge, Esq

We’ve all done it.  We’ve all dialed someone and thought we were smart. Well. Ok. Some phone pranking is kind of amusing.

As a kid, I used to call McDonald’s and ask for reservations.

A friend of mine, with a deeper voice, would call a store. Someone would answer, “K-Mart, may I help you?” “No,” my friend said. “I’m just looking.”

Star Wars was a big excuse to phone prank in our neighborhood. Dialing a random number we would ask, “Is this Luke?” When the recipient asked, “Who is this?” We could barely respond for laughing, “I am your father.”

Comedian Jerry Lewis, a frequent performer in Las Vegas, was an incorrigible phone prankster. Lewis’ calls from The Sands were recorded and are still played on radios and the Internet.

Times have changed. Regulators have tightened up and now jail time can be in the future for someone who phone prank’s with the purpose of harassing.

There is nothing illegal about sending a pre-recorded message to a phone number, but it is illegal to harass someone.

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, it is lawful to record any phone conversation with the consent of at least one of the individuals on the call.

The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate calls. Through the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, manipulating Caller ID information for the purpose of defrauding or harassing someone is against the law.

In Nevada NRS Section 201.255 regulates annoying phone calls. What may seem like a prank call to someone could end in criminal prosecution.

The First Amendment provides a buffer against prosecution — sometimes. If you get into an argument with someone on the phone and it turns emotional, someone is apt to say something that is based on emotional reactions. Strong emotions, vented over the phone, or legal and a protected form of speech.

Threaten to kill someone or repeatedly call someone after they’ve told you to stop calling and First Amendment rights are gone. Making obscene, threatening, threatening or annoying phone calls in Nevada is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and $1,000 fine.

There's not too many 30-second phone calls that are worth trading in six months of freedom and there’s definitely no phone pranking in prison.

Article 2 of 2 by Nick Wooldridge

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