Criminal Defense Attorney in Seattle, WA
The crime of harassment occurs when one individual takes certain actions to threaten another individual. According to Washington law (RCW §9A.46.020), harassment occurs when someone knowingly threatens (without lawful authority) to perform any of the following actions:
- Causing bodily injury (immediate or future) to the person being threatened or to someone else
- Causing physical damage to someone else's property
- Subjecting the person being threatened or another person to physical restraint or confinement
- Performing an act, with malicious intent, that is meant to substantially harm another person's physical or mental safety or health
Harassment is also considered any words or conduct by the offender that places the threatened person in "reasonable fear" that a certain threat will actually be acted upon. This can even include words or conduct carried out through electronic communication. Stalking is one of the many different types of harassment.
There are many people who, after getting into disputes with others, make baseless allegations of harassment. The accusers sometimes exaggerate the facts simply to incriminate the other person. If you are facing harassment charges, you are going to need the assistance of competent legal counsel so you can properly present your side of the story and work to prove your innocence. Our skilled Seattle criminal defense lawyer at Blair & Kim, PLLC can provide you with step-by-step legal support throughout your harassment case. Our criminal defense law firm has provided additional information below about how harassment is categorized in Washington.
Penalties for Harassment
Harassment is generally considered a gross misdemeanor. The offense is, however, can be elevated a Class C felony when any of the following circumstances apply:
- The offender has previously been convicted of harassing an alleged victim named in a no-harassment or no-contact order (or a member of that victim's family or household)
- The offender made a death threat
- The offender harassed a criminal justice participant while that person was carrying out his or her official duties
- The offender harassed a criminal justice participant in retaliation for a decision or action that person made while carrying out his or her official duties
A conviction for a gross misdemeanor can result in up to 364 days (just under one year) in county jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. A conviction for a Class C felony can result in five years of imprisonment in a state correctional institution and/or a fine of $10,000.
Individuals accused of harassment could also be subject to no-contact or no-harassment order. These are orders by the court to stay away from an alleged victim and the places that individual regularly frequents, such as his or her home, school and places of employment. These types of orders also prohibit the defendant from contacting, intimidating or threatening the alleged victim.
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Harassment charges should be taken seriously, as they can lead to very damaging penalties. After being arrested for this type of crime, don't hesitate to contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney for help with your defense!