Perez v. Texas, No. 8-15-00253-CR (Tex. App. 8th Dist.) May 11, 2017
In challenging the entry of an agreed upon protective order, defendant could not raise for the first time on appeal the facial constitutional validity of the Texas criminal harassment statute.
Prior Texas cases failed to find ‘as applied’ vagueness concerning the statutory term ‘harassment,’ as the term is understandable according to its ordinary meaning.
Something Less than “True Threat,” But More than Ordinary Cussin’
Defendant’s position that calling his former girlfriend demeaning names in front of others was protected speech is without support in the law, the Texas appellate court found. While speech enjoys great protection, speech freedoms are not absolute: certain communicative content may be regulated. Intimidation, fighting words, and true threats fall outside constitutional protections. While simple profanity may be protected speech, that protection is lost when such words are uttered before family and friends, as doing so may provoke violence. Context supports this where other incidents had warranted court intervention, and where a jury found the speaker to have harassed or threatened his girlfriend’s life.