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What behaviors are considered criminal harassment?

When many people think of harassment, they think of someone bugging them without stopping. Some people might not realize that some harassing behavior could be considered criminal. There are certain elements that must be present for actions to be considered a criminal action. Knowing some specific points about criminal harassment might help some people who find themselves facing harassment charges.

How is criminal harassment different from other forms of harassment?

Criminal harassment has to be meant to annoy, terrorize, torment or alarm the person being harassed. The actions have to be construed as credible threats against the person or his or her family members that would affect their safety. Unlike forms of harassment that are dealt with a civil court, criminal harassment can lead to imprisonment if the person is convicted. Criminal harassment charges vary greatly from a misdemeanor to a high-level felony.

Does criminal harassment have to occur in person?

Criminal harassment can occur in a variety of forms. In person is only one of those forms. Harassment via the Internet, mail, written material and other forms can also be considered criminal harassment. Cyberstalking, menacing and stalking can also be considered harassing behaviors that can lead to other charges.

Facing criminal harassment charges is something that is very serious. In some cases, a person might face federal charges if the harassing behavior occurred across state lines. It is vital that you understand what type of charges you are facing so that you can understand the possible penalties of a conviction. Once you have that information, you can start working on a defense strategy.

Source: FindLaw, “Harassment,” accessed June 29, 2015

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