In 2009, Texas passed a law prohibiting the online impersonation of another.  If you impersonate someone else online, without their consent, and have the intent to harm, defraud, or threaten another person, you may be guilty of a crime.  In this regard, prohibited conduct includes creating websites or posting on social media, in which case you can be found guilty of a third degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in state prison, and a find of up to $10,000.  If the online impersonation involves sending email while posing as someone other than yourself, it’s considered a Class A misdemeanor, with a penalty range that includes up to 1 year in the county jail, and up to a $4000 fine. If you’ve been arrested or charged with online impersonation, you need serious legal help.  Call the University Park criminal defense lawyers at Berlof & Newton, P.C.  214.827.2800.  Free consultation.  Or contact one of our attorneys directly, using the “Get Legal Help Now!” form in the left margin of this web page.  Each of our lawyers has over 15 years in the practice of criminal defense law

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Texas Penal Code Section 33.07.  ONLINE IMPERSONATION.

(a)  A person commits an offense if the person, without obtaining the other person’s consent and with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person, uses the name or persona of another person to: (1)  create a web page on a commercial social networking site or other Internet website; or (2)  post or send one or more messages on or through a commercial social networking site or other Internet website, other than on or through an electronic mail program or message board program.

(b)  A person commits an offense if the person sends an electronic mail, instant message, text message, or similar communication that references a name, domain address, phone number, or other item of identifying information belonging to any person: (1)  without obtaining the other person’s consent; (2)  with the intent to cause a recipient of the communication to reasonably believe that the other person authorized or transmitted the communication; and (3)  with the intent to harm or defraud any person.

(c)  An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the third degree.  An offense under Subsection (b) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the actor commits the offense with the intent to solicit a response by emergency personnel.

(d)  If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.

(e)  It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor is any of the following entities or that the actor’s conduct consisted solely of action taken as an employee of any of the following entities: (1)  a commercial social networking site; (2)  an Internet service provider; (3)  an interactive computer service, as defined by 47 U.S.C. Section 230; (4)  a telecommunications provider, as defined by Section 51.002, Utilities Code; or (5)  a video service provider or cable service provider, as defined by Section 66.002, Utilities Code.

(f)  In this section: (1)  “Commercial social networking site” means any business, organization, or other similar entity operating a website that permits persons to become registered users for the purpose of establishing personal relationships with other users through direct or real-time communication with other users or the creation of web pages or profiles available to the public or to other users.  The term does not include an electronic mail program or a message board program. (2)  “Identifying information” has the meaning assigned by Section 32.51. Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 911, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009. Amended by: Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 282, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011. Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 282, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2011.

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