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Name: In re C.C.
Case #: C061230
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/27/2009
Summary

Minor’s text messages containing vulgar language sent to his ex-girlfriend were not obscene and do not constitute physical harm to the receiver. C.C. sent his ex-girlfriend two text messages expressing “strong negative feelings” about her, their breakup, and that he was going to shoot himself and “half the school” in front of her. He was charged in a delinquency petition with criminal threats and making a threatening or obscene telephone communication. The minor victim testified that she was not annoyed by the texts, nor offended by the use of the swear words in it. The juvenile court found that the texts were sent with the intent to annoy the victim, were obscene, and sustained the latter offense. The appellate court reversed the conviction, concluding that the text messages were neither threatening nor obscene as defined by the statute. They did not threaten physical harm to the victim, only to her psyche, which the legislature did not intend to include in Penal Code section 653m, otherwise they would have said so as used in other assault statutes. “Injury to person” as used in the statute means “physical harm.” Nor did the “vulgar” language in the texts qualify as “obscene.” The words were used by a frustrated high school boy to his former girlfriend, and both parties attended a high school where such language is common parlance. While the language was arguably upsetting, it was not obscene.