Domestic Violence Harassment
Harassment encompasses a range of behaviors that can cause emotional distress or a sense of danger. It extends beyond physical contact or direct threats and also includes seemingly harmless text messages or phone calls. Unfortunately, harassment cases are often complex and may not be fully captured by police reports. Defendants may face challenges as prosecutors may already have formed their opinions regarding guilt or innocence and are prepared to vigorously oppose them.
The Pennsylvania Code, Section 2709, outlines harassment statutes. It defines two distinct crimes: cyber harassment of a child and harassment.
Harassment, as defined by the law, occurs when a person intentionally engages in actions aimed at annoying, harassing, or alarming another individual. The following acts are categorized as harassment:
Cyber Harassment of a Child
This crime specifically targets children as victims. It involves the use of electronic means or social media to intentionally alarm, annoy, or harass a child through actions such as:
- Threatening harm
- Making disparaging statements or expressing opinions about the child’s physical or mental health condition, sexuality, physical characteristics, or sexual activity
Harassment Penalties in Pennsylvania
A harassment charge in Pennsylvania can vary from a summary offense to a third-degree misdemeanor. A summary offense can result in up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300, while a third-degree misdemeanor carries a potential sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If a defendant violates a PFA (Protection From Abuse) order in connection with the harassment charge or continues to harass the same victim or their family, the assigned punishment will be one grade higher. The severity of the penalties depends on the specific circumstances of the incident, with some acts considered summary offenses and others classified as misdemeanors.
Harassment encompasses a range of acts that can lead to charges. Here are some common examples:
- Making intentional contact to harm someone.
- Repeatedly attempting to contact someone.
- Sending disparaging or sexual comments to a minor online.
- Transmitting lewd jokes, pictures, or comments to someone.
- Threatening a minor online.
- Persistently issuing threats to an individual.
- Following someone in public.
- Making contact with a person at inconvenient times.
The crux of a harassment case lies in proving intent – did the defendant have the intention to harm the victim?
Defending Against Harassment Charges
Harassment charges share similarities with stalking charges, but with lower penalties. However, proving a harassment case is relatively easier for prosecutors. The focus largely rests on establishing the intent behind the actions. Prosecutors often use the defendant’s messages and phone calls as evidence against them. Victims’ statements may also be used in court.
In defense against harassment charges, hearing both sides of the story is crucial. This entails putting the defendant on the stand to provide their perspective on the events. Prosecutors will aim to challenge the defendant’s version, but a skilled Washington PA DUI attorney ensures their client’s voice is properly represented.
Facing harassment charges can be an arduous experience. All too often, prosecutors and juries prematurely judge guilt based solely on the nature of the accusation. However, having an experienced and dedicated Washington PA DUI attorney can make a significant difference.
If you or a loved one is facing harassment charges, you need a Washington PA criminal lawyer who comprehends the intricacies of the legal system and fearlessly fights for your case. At Logue Law, Sean Logue and his associates possess the experience, tenacity, and empathy required to obtain justice. Give them a call at 844.PITT.DUI, or contact them online here. Initial consultations are free. Logue Law serves Washington, PA, as well as West Virginia and Ohio.
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