The term harassment can be used to define many types of criminal behavior, including stalking and infliction of emotional distress. There is also civil harassment, which is often referred to in workplace contexts. For example, when a female worker is fired because she didn’t respond to her male superior’s requests for a date, this may be a form of workplace sexual harassment. Although this type of civil harassment is unlawful, it is not punished as a criminal act. The male superior might lose his job, but he isn’t likely to go to jail.
In MA, you may be convicted of criminal harassment if the prosecution can show that you willfully and maliciously engaged in conduct that would cause emotional distress in a reasonable person. Typically, the defendant and the victim know each other. In many cases, harassment follows the end of a romantic relationship. Maybe the person who broke it off no longer wanted to be contacted, but the other person wasn’t ready to let go. Regardless of the reason, it’s a criminal offense to purposely cause another person to feel emotional distress.The penalty for criminal harassment is up to two-and-a-half years in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The Four Elements of Criminal Harassment
To be convicted of criminal harassment, the prosecution must be able to show the four elements below:
- Your conduct occurred on at least three separate occasions, and each was directed at the victim.
- Your actions would have caused a reasonable person to feel emotional distress.
- Your actions caused the victim to feel serious alarm.
- Your actions were willful and your intent was malicious.
In MA, feeling uneasy, nervous or unhappy isn’t enough to constitute a conviction of criminal harassment. The victim must experience “substantial emotional distress.” Any type of exchange can be used to commit criminal harassment, including email, phone, text message, or in person. However, the contact must be direct. For example, if you email another person and that person forwards your email to the alleged victim, this would not constitute harassment. A Boston criminal defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with harassment.
When someone feels that he or she is being criminally harassed, they may obtain an Order of Protection from the court. In MA, the victim can receive an abuse prevention order or a harassment prevention order. Both of these orders are common in domestic violence and harassment cases.
The stakes are even higher when the victim fears for his or her own safety. Stalking is one of the most serious forms of criminal harassment. In order to be convicted of stalking, the prosecution must show that you threatened the safety and well-being of the other person. In MA, a stalking conviction carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. If there was a protection order against you in place at the time of the stalking incident, you may be facing up to 10 years in prison. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you have been charged with stalking.
As with most crimes, the severity of your offense and past criminal history will factor heavily into the penalties you may be facing if charged with harassment. Harassment can be a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have previously been convicted of harassment, you are significantly more likely to receive a felony charge.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Harassment Defense Lawyers Serving All of MA
If you have been charged with harassment or any type of criminal offense, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients. We will analyze the details of your case and position you for the most favorable outcome. Don’t go through this difficult time alone. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.