Unlawful Disclosure Of Residence Address Or Telephone Number: Texas Penal Code §42.074

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Unlawful Disclosure of Residence Address or Telephone Number law criminalizes “doxing” – making it illegal to post someone’s address or telephone number on a website with the intent to cause harm or a threat of harm to the individual or a member of the individual’s family or household.

Doxing (also spelled “Doxxing”) is a popular type of cyberbullying that had its origins in the online gaming world. It mainly refers to sharing private information about an individual to online forums to get revenge or otherwise harm the victim.

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The Texas Legislature enacted this law criminalizing doxing in 2023. The new law was codified at Texas Penal Code Section 42.074 and went into effect on September 1, 2023.

The Penal Code classifies the Texas Unlawful Disclosure Of Address Or Telephone law under Title 9 “Offenses Against Public Order and Decency,” Chapter 42 “Disorderly Conduct and Related Offenses.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Unlawful Disclosure Of Residence Address Or Telephone Number below.

What is the current Texas law about Unlawful Disclosure Of Residence Address Or Telephone Number?

Texas law currently defines the offense of Unlawful Disclosure Of Residence Address Or Telephone Number in Penal Code Section §42.074 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if the person posts on a publicly accessible website the residence address or telephone number of an individual with the intent to cause harm or a threat of harm to the individual or a member of the individual’s family or household.

What is Doxing?

Doxing, short for “dropping dox,” originates from the an abbreviation of the word “documents.”[2] It refers to the act of posting information about individuals or organizations to the public through the internet – information that people are usually trying to keep secret (for better or for worse). For instance, someone posting crazy things online could be doxxed as a way to force them out of obscurity in an effort to humiliate them into shutting up, but it is often done to harass someone or get revenge.

What Constitutes Doxing Under Texas Law?

There is no official Texas legal definition of “doxxing,” but this new offense was designed to target internet posts that disclose the residence address or telephone number of a person with the intent to cause harm or a threat of harm to the individual or a member of the individual’s family or household.

What are some Examples of Doxxing?

The criminal offense of Doxxing in Texas includes, for example, posting someone’s phone number or address on a web forum. But under this new law it does not include releasing personal photos of an individual, releasing information about an individual’s family, work or other private information, and encouraging others to use released information to harass an individual.

The highest-profile example was when 23 jurors in the Georgia prosecution of Donald Trump for RICO violations have had their personal information — including their names, ages, addresses and vehicle details —posted anonymously on conspiracy theory websites hosted by a Russian company as part of an effort to harass and intimidate them.[3]

Is Doxing Illegal in Texas?

Not all commonly-understood practices of Doxxing are currently illegal under this new law. For instance, it does not include releasing personal photos of an individual, releasing information about an individual’s family, work or other private information, and encouraging others to use released information to harass an individual.

However, other laws may apply to those situations, such as Harassment, Stalking, Silent or Abusive Calls to 9-1-1 Service (also known as Swatting).

What charges can stem from Doxing in Texas?

Doxing may be prosecuted under this new Unlawful Disclosure Of Residence Address Or Telephone Number law. This law makes it illegal to post an individual’s phone number or address on the Internet.

However, other laws may apply to those situations, such as Harassment, Stalking, Silent or Abusive Calls to 9-1-1 Service (also known as Swatting).

How can I be charged with an Unlawful Disclosure Of Address Or Telephone offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Unlawful Disclosure Of Residence Address Or Telephone Number in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 42.074 as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Unlawful Disclosure Of Address Or Telephone in Texas?

As a misdemeanor, Unlawful Disclosure Of Address Or Telephone charges have a two-year limitations period.[4]

What is the penalty for a Texas Unlawful Disclosure Of Address Or Telephone offense?

Unlawful Disclosure Of Residence Address Or Telephone Number in Texas is punished as a either a Class B or a Class A misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor if it results in the bodily injury of the doxing victim or any member of the doxing victim’s family or household, otherwise it is a Class B misdemeanor.[5]

Can you get probation for Unlawful Disclosure Of Address Or Telephone in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Unlawful Disclosure Of Address Or Telephone, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[6]

Note, however, that judges may not grant community supervision after a conviction if (1) the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the felony or immediate flight thereafter and (2) the defendant used or exhibited the deadly weapon himself or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited.[7]

What level of crime is Unlawful Disclosure Of Address Or Telephone in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies Unlawful Disclosure Of Address Or Telephone as either a Class A misdemeanor or Class B misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Penal Code §42.074. This law is current as of 2024.^2. “What is doxxing and what can you do if you are doxxed?” – CNN^3. Willis asks court to protect jurors after doxing in Trump’s Georgia case – Axios, September 7, 2023^4. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^5. Texas Penal Code §42.074(b)^6. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^7. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

Unlawful Disclosure Of Residence Address Or Telephone Number | Penal Code 42.074 text with Texas and American Flag in background

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