Harassing Telephone Calls (N.C.G.S. § 14-196)

Phone harassment

Under North Carolina General Statute § 14-196, using profane, indecent or threatening language to any person over the telephone, annoying or harassing repeated telephoning or making false statements over the telephone can lead to criminal charges in North Carolina. Phone harassment is a serious crime under North Carolina law and it is important to contact our criminal defense team to determine what the next steps are.

Types of Harassing Phone Calls

  1. Profane or indecent language used.
  2. Threatening language to inflict bodily harm to another or another’s child, sibling, spouse, or property of any person, or for the purpose of extorting money or other things of value from another.
  3. Repeated calls to harass, abuse, annoy, terrify, or embarrass.
  4. Failing to hang up for purpose of disrupting service of another.
  5. Making false statements with the intent to harass, etc.
  6. Third-party permitting use of phone for harassment.


Under N.C.G.S. § 14-196, a person can be found guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor for making or allowing any type of harassing phone call listed above. A class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina carries penalties like 60 days in jail, as well as a fine determined by the judge. Additionally, if convicted, a judge could place you a period of probation for a period up to 2 years.

Common Things to Know

  • What does “Harassing” mean? Harassment is defined as knowing conduct (including written or printed communication or transmission, telephone, cellular, or other wireless telephonic communication, facsimile transmission, pager messages or transmissions, answering machine or voice mail messages or transmissions, and electronic transmissions) directed at a specific person that torments, terrorizes, or terrifies that person that serves no legitimate purpose.
  • In order for N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-196 to apply, the acts or types of phone calls described about must have been made in “telephonic communications.” Telephonic communications include communications made or received by way of a telephone answering machine or recorder, telefacsimile machine, or computer modem.
  • Can I be accused of harassing telephone calls by an organization as well as another person? Yes, any organization, as well as a person can be a victim on the other side of the telephone receiving any of the types of phone calls listed above.
  • Can I be found guilty even if I do not communicate with another person? Yes, this statute would apply because the State only has to provide evidence that you repeatedly called the other person, not that you actually spoke to the person or anyone with the organization.
  • What type of false statements apply for this crime? In these situations, a person can be found guilty when they make any false statement concerning: death, injury, illness, disfigurement, indecent conduct, or criminal conduct of the person telephone or of any member of the person’s family or household with the intent to harass, abuse, terrify, etc.