Unlawful Publication of Address or Telephone Number of Police Officer or Police Department Employee – Penal Code Section 146e

Penal Code Section 146e protects the officers and employees of law enforcement agencies. The purpose of the law is to prevent individuals from threatening or intimidating police personnel from carrying out their official duties.

Misdemeanor Violation of Penal Code Section 146e

A misdemeanor violation of Penal Code Section 146e occurs under the following circumstances:

(1)  The defendant published or otherwise dissemenated an address or phone number;

(2) The phone number or address belonged to a protected individual, including:

(a) a peace officer;

(b) a police dispatcher;

(c) an employee of a city police department or county sheriff’s office;

(d) a public safety official;1

(e) a spouse or child of any protected person in  (a) through (e) above2

(3) The protected individual was identified or designated based on his job title.

Felony Violation of Penal Code Section 146e

The crime is punishable as a felony if the misdemeanor elements of the statute are satisified AND the protected person receives “bodily injury” as a result of the publication.

Commentary on Penal Code Section 146e:

The age of the internet has given voice to many individuals who previously felt powerless to speak out against the government and its agents.  However, the publication of any information that risks the health and safety of law enforcement personnel, or the family members of law enforcement officers, will be treated very aggressively by the criminal justice system.  You should refrain from any internet blogging or from making any type of publication that exposes the addresses or phone numbers of government personnel unless you have consulted with an attorney!    Any competent lawyer is likely to strongly discourage you from publishing any information which potentially exposes the address, phone number, email address or other contact information belonging to a law enforcement officer or his/her family member.

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately if you find yourself under investigation for a violation of Penal Code Section 146e.


Sources Cited:

  1.  The spouse of child must reside with the protected person.
  2.  “Public Safety Official” is defined by Government Code Section 6254.2.