Seattle Harassment Charges
Harassment charges are one common area of domestic violence law. A harassment case can lead to serious consequences and can even be charged as a felony. In addition, a conviction on your criminal record can have long term negative effects on your life. Luckily, harassment charges are defensible with knowledgeable legal aid.
The word harassment is often used to describe annoying behavior, but harassment charges are actually quite serious. Harassment can occur between people with any type of relationship such as former lovers, friends, co-workers, strangers and even family members. There are no relationship qualifications for a harassment charge and the only evidence that is needed is that the victim was contacted more than twice and was caused distress by it. This can lead to false accusations and misunderstandings that have severe negative effects on your life. The good news is that an experienced attorney can help you fight harassment charges and preserve your good name.
Seattle Stalking Laws
Harassment charges are wide ranging and can be open to interpretation. Generally, harassment is when a person knowingly threatens to harm another person, their family or their property. This can be in the form of physical abuse, property damage or any other type of bodily harm. It can also include threats of abduction or restraint. Even threats that damage a person's mental health can be considered harassment. Harassment can be delivered in any form of communication including conduct, words and electronic media. This means that sending e-mails or messages through social media can lead to harassment charges being filed against you. Most harassment charges are gross misdemeanors, but some can lead to felony charges as well.
One common type of harassment charge is for stalking. Stalking is when a person repeatedly (two or more times) follows or harasses another person. This can lead to victims fearing for their safety, their family's safety, their property or even their life. Stalking charges are generally gross misdemeanors. Stalking can take place in cases where the defendant is trying to cause emotional distress and fear to the victim or in cases where the defendant should reasonably be aware of the victim's fears but continues the harassment any way. In other words, the defendant does not have to intentionally cause distress in order to be charged with stalking. It is important to realize that the alleged victim does not have to give the defendant any notice that they feel that they are being stalked and stalking is not defensible by stating that you were unaware your actions were causing distress. In many cases this can be helpful to victims, but it can also lead to unwarranted arrests made in cases of misunderstandings.
Seattle Stalking / Harassment Penalties
Most stalking and harassment charges are misdemeanors, but sometime a charge can even be a felony.
The penalties for a gross misdemeanor include:
- Up to one year of jail time
- Up to $5,000 in fines
When harassment is particularly harsh, it can result in a class C felony charge. There are several circumstances that can lead to such a charge. Some of the situations that lead to felony harassment charges include:
- The defendant threatens to kill the victim or anyone else
- The defendant has been previously convicted of harassing the same person or a family member of the alleged victim
- The alleged victim has a non-harassment or protective order against the defendant
The penalties for a Class C felony include:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Felony charges also have long term effects as your conviction will show up on your criminal record for years to come making it harder to find a job or get accepted to school.
Stalking / Harassment Lawyer in Seattle
If you have been accused of harassment under any of these circumstances, make sure you call a Seattle harassment attorney right away. An experienced domestic violence lawyer can help explain to you the consequences you are facing and work with you to build a strong defense. Attorney Steve Karimi is a top rated domestic violence lawyer who knows what it takes to beat criminal charges.
For anyone facing domestic violence charges, it is important that you understand your rights as well as the penalties you may be facing. Most harassment and stalking charges are gross misdemeanors which can result in fines, jail time, probation, community service and more. Some charges can even be ruled as felonies and will lead to even greater sentences. You will likely also be served with a non-harassment or protective order by the victim who can also file a civil case against you. The best way to prevent these consequences is to avoid a conviction with the aid of a professional domestic violence legal team. Attorney Steve Karimi has a lot of experience in criminal defense and domestic violence cases. He is understanding, compassionate, hardworking and has a deep understanding of Seattle criminal law.