A harassment charge may include many kinds of conduct. It is often charged as a disorderly person’s offense, and it may be brought as a fourth-degree indictable offense with severe penalties. A harassment charge, like any other criminal charge, should be taken seriously, as it can result in negative consequences for the rest of your life.
Can you charge someone for harassment – A person commits the offense of harassment by:
- Communicating with others anonymously, at very inconvenient hours, inoffensive language, or in a way that is likely to annoy or cause harm
- Striking, kicking, shoving, punching, or threatening someone else with that conduct
- Engaging, with the intent of seriously annoying another person, in cursing or repeatedly alarming actions
Can you charge someone for harassment – The best strategy to beat a harassment charge?
There are always legitimate defense strategies to use against any type of harassment charge. The best strategy is to try to have a harassment charge downgraded to a municipal ordinance charge. A municipal ordinance charge will not give you a criminal record, and the only penalty will be fine. If this strategy is not successful, then you could also consider fighting the case. The prosecutor’s evidence may be very flimsy or subjective, or the witnesses may not even show up at Municipal Court. Believe it or not, the most common way that a harassment charge is dismissed is if the victim drops the charges, or if he does not show up to the court to testify.
Harassment is charged when an individual is believed to purposely act to criminally harass, annoy or alarm their victim. This includes “virtual” actions such as cyberstalking and cyber-crime.
A defendant is guilty of harassment in the first degree when they intentionally and repeatedly harass another person. This includes following that person in, or around, public places or by course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts that place the victim in reasonable fear of physical injury. This law does not apply to activities regulated by the national labor relations act, railway labor act, or federal employment labor management act, as amended.
The crime of harassment (which can include stalking, hate crimes, and cyberbullying) occurs when one person acts in a way designed to annoy, provoke, threaten, or otherwise cause another person emotional distress. State laws and some federal laws identify multiple ways in which harassment can be committed.
Harassment laws also exist to protect specific classes of persons, such as persons holding public office. Hate crime laws typically prohibit harassment that targets victims based on their age, gender, sexual orientation, or race.
A defendant may also argue that the alleged harassment was an unintended consequence of the defendant’s actions. For example, a person at home might play the music that contains offensive lyrics, unaware that his child left a window open; a passerby on a seldom-used path hears the offensive music. Although the passerby feels annoyed, the person playing the music did not commit the crime of harassment because the person did not play the music with the intent to harass the passerby.
Harassment can be a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the nature of the allegations and if there is any past history of harassment charges. A harassment arrest normally results from an alleged threat to either a person’s safety or property.
If a current or past domestic relationship is established between the accuser and accused, there are enhanced penalties that can increase the minimum required jail sentence. A No Contact Order is normally issued after an arrest for domestic violence harassment and the court may ask you to surrender any firearms you may own.
Causes of Violations
Threats that can result in a harassment arrest can be made in person, through text or email, or through another person. Any act that knowingly and maliciously is meant to threaten a person can meet the definition of harassment.
Defending Harassment Charges
There are several potential defenses to a harassment charge. We see many cases where charges are filed without any substantial proof or witnesses to collaborate the alleged victim’s story. If the allegations are frivolous, we can often time convince the prosecutor to drop the charges, based on the results of our independent investigation.
In domestic cases, the allegations are often times exaggerated or false. A criminal harassment arrest can also be the result of communication that was never meant to be serious. We can oftentimes make a case that the intent of the threat was not serious and that the alleged victim did not believe that the threat would be carried out.
Defending Against Harassment Charges
The likelihood of conviction depends on the circumstances of each case. Courts will look at the relationship between the accused offender and the victim, gender, age, occupation, and other factors. Whatever the circumstances, the prosecution has to be able to prove that the defendant intended for the conduct to harass the victim. Insensitive conduct, without the intent to specifically harass, is not enough for a conviction. Additionally, the degree of annoyance is also important. The conduct must also significantly or seriously annoy the other person. Because it is unclear as to what constitutes sufficient annoyance, the facts of each case should be analyzed exhaustively.
Many times, people file complaints against others simply because they are slightly annoyed or offended. Such petty conduct doesn’t rise to the level of criminal harassment. However, even in such cases, people may still be charged with a crime by law enforcement, and these charges should not be ignored or may result in an unfair conviction.
Many harassment charges are brought by law enforcement that doesn’t have any merit under the law, but they do so because a victim complained. These charges can often be downgraded or dismissed by the court because the facts don’t support pursuing them further. If you have been charged with harassment, Saggi Law Firm criminal defense attorney can analyze the facts of your case and may be able to argue for the court to downgrade the offense or dismiss it altogether.