Doxing consists of spreading private information about a person or organization, usually on the internet and without the victim’s consent. Many people dox out of anger or revenge. For example, two people might get into a political dispute online. One of the participants finds out where the other person lives and publishes that information.
Although Texas doesn’t have a law against doxing, the practice could land you in hot water, nonetheless. Several different laws apply, so we recommend hiring a Houston criminal defense attorney to represent you.
Examples of Doxing
People can reveal all sorts of private information about a person without their knowledge or consent. Some common examples include:
- Releasing a person’s work information online and encouraging people to contact their boss
- Publishing photographs of a person online
- Printing information about a person’s family, such as where their children go to school
Doxing is often committed with the intent of bullying or harassing a person or encouraging others to bully the victim. Releasing private information accidentally might also violate the law but is not really doxing as we normally think of it, and the accidental release of information is not the focus of the article.
Texas Criminal Charges Related to Doxing
Several Texas laws could come into play if you are caught doxing, including:
- Harassment, Penal Code § 42.07. It is illegal to engage in conduct with the intent to annoy, abuse, harass, embarrass, or torment someone. This is a Class B misdemeanor, which carries as a penalty a maximum 180 days in jail and $2,000 fine. It’s a Class A misdemeanor if this is your second harassment conviction.
- Stalking, Penal Code § 42.072. It is illegal to engage in any act focused on someone with the intent of causing them to fear serious bodily injury or death. A first-time conviction is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
- Swatting, Penal Code § 42.061. Swatting consists of reporting a fake emergency to 911, either as a prank or with the goal of harassing someone. This is a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in a maximum 180 days in jail and $2,000 fine.
Federal Charges for Doxing
Doxing might even rise to the level of a federal offense, especially if you used a phone or the internet as part of your attack. You might face charges for stalking under 18 USC 2261A, which can result in up to 5 years in federal prison.
A federal prosecutor could also bring charges under the Interstate Communications Statute, 18 USC 875, which prohibits using electronic communications to extort someone by threatening harm to their reputation.
Can You Defend Against Criminal Charges for Doxing?
Possibly. One common defense is that the information is already public. For example, criminal history or divorce records are often public, even if you need to do a little digging to find the information. If you are a reporter writing about an issue of public concern, then even private information might be protected speech.Please contact Tad Nelson & Associates today. Our Houston criminal defense attorney will review the charges against you and identify any possible defenses.