Phoenix Harassment Charges

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Experienced Lawyer for Harassment Charges in Phoenix

Harassment is a fine line between acceptable social interactions and attempts to belittle, intimidate, or harm another party. What’s more, harassment is very subjective in the eyes of the law. Still, that doesn’t mean you should forgo legal help if you’re facing Phoenix harassment charges.

If convicted, you could face more than jail time and fines. You could face irreparable damage to your reputation that makes it difficult to maintain employment, find housing, and live your life normally. Yet, by entrusting your case to a criminal defense lawyer, you can have someone advocate for your freedom.

How the Law Defines Harassment?

Harassing means conducting oneself in a manner that would annoy, humiliate, distress, or alarm a reasonable person.

State law defines harassment as a person who knowingly and repeatedly commits an act (or acts) that harasses another person.

Acts of harassment could include:

  • Contacting or attempting communication with another person verbally, electronically, mechanically, telephonically, or by writing to them
  • Continuing to follow a person in a public place after the person asks them to stop
  • Surveilling someone
  • Making a false report to law enforcement or to a social service agency against another person
  • Interfering with the delivery of a utility to someone else

This type of harassment is a class 1 misdemeanor. Matters change if someone files a non-consensual lien against a public officer or government entity. In that instance, the harassment is a class 5 felony. Penalties for misdemeanors and felonies differ.

Offenses Related to Harassment

Harassment sometimes accompanies other criminal charges. In those instances, the defendant could face compounded criminal charges. Harassment could accompany charges of:

Domestic Violence

State law defines domestic violence as occuring when:

  • The victim and the defendant are married or were formally married.
  • The victim and the defendant reside in the same household.
  • The victim and the defendant are related by blood or a court order.
  • The victim is a child that lives in the same household as the defendant.
  • The relationship between the victim and the defendant is romantic or, at one point, was romantic.

Domestic violence laws list harassment as a crime specifically related to domestic violence. Therefore, if someone harasses someone with whom they have a relationship that falls under domestic violence laws, then they could have their harassment charge designated as a domestic violence charge.

Facing a domestic violence charge can get complicated. Domestic violence offenses carry additional punishments and consequences than other offenses. In these instances, it’s vital to consider legal representation. An attorney can fight to get charges dropped, dismissed, or reduced. They could also fight for a “not guilty” verdict at trial.


The state defines stalking as when someone engages in a course of conduct that causes another person to suffer or fear in some way. The key here is that the stalking must be intentional or knowing. For instance, if two ex-partners work in the same office building, walking past each other in the parking lot is awkward—but not necessarily stalking. Yet, if someone intentionally follows another person to gain insight into their whereabouts or habits, that would constitute stalking.

Stalking is also when the alleged victim:

  • Suffers emotional distress or fear that the perpetrator will damage their property
  • Suffers emotional distress that someone will physically injure them, their family members, their domestic animals, or their livestock
  • Reasonably fears death or the death of a family member, domestic animal, or livestock
  • Reasonably fears the death of someone they are in a romantic relationship with or previously dated

Someone could face both stalking and harassment charges because these two charges relate to one another. For example, continuing to perform stalking behaviors could annoy or alarm someone, causing them to also feel harassed. When someone faces both of these charges, a defense attorney can assist them.

Penalties for Harassment Charges

Harassment charges can result in a class 5 felony or a class 1 misdemeanor. Depending on the circumstances of the case, penalties differ depending on the exact charge the accused party received.

For harassment charges, the accused party could face the following penalties:

  • Class 1 misdemeanor: A jail sentence of up to six months.
  • Class 5 felony: A prison sentence of up to 2.5 years.

In some cases, when found guilty, the judge could sentence the defendant to probation. Here, a probation officer monitors your criminal activity and prohibits you from engaging in certain activities, like drinking alcohol. If you violate the terms of your probation, you could face enhanced charges that result in jail time.

A Harassment Conviction Comes With More Than Jail Time

Some people look at the penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor and think: “Six months of jail time? That’s not too bad.” This prompts them to proceed to trial without legal help.

Unfortunately, a conviction brings more than jail time. It can pose both personal and financial consequences.

The Personal Consequences of a Conviction

The personal consequences of a conviction can complicate your:

  • Civic responsibilities: When someone has a conviction on their record, they could lose their right to participate in civic duties. Examples include voting or serving on a jury. You could even have problems holding a public office.
  • Travel restrictions: Some countries do not admit people with convictions. Countries as close as Canada could deny entry if they see someone has a conviction on their record. This can significantly impact your ability to travel or reside in another country.
  • Immigration status: A criminal conviction could affect your ability to stay in the country. For instance, if you’re applying for a green card, a conviction could complicate that process. It could even give the overseeing government agency a reason to deny your citizenship.
  • Custodial arrangements: A criminal conviction can significantly impact a child custody arrangement. If there are already custody issues in a relationship, once someone has a conviction on their record, it could make those issues worse.

A criminal defense attorney can help you avoid a conviction by preparing a solid defense. That way, you don’t have to deal with long-term personal consequences.

The Financial Consequences of a Conviction

The financial consequences of a conviction can significantly impact your livelihood.

You could struggle with:

  • Finding employment: Once convicted, you could have problems finding employment if an employer conducts a background check. This could prevent you from getting jobs that could secure your financial stability.
  • Keeping employment: Many jobs require employees to carry professional licenses, such as attorneys, doctors, nurses, and teachers. Convicted criminals can have their professional licenses revoked.
  • Renting a home or an apartment: Landlords typically run background checks on their prospective tenants. If they see a conviction on your record, they could deny your rental application. This could also make it difficult to reside in an affordable housing community.
  • Getting a loan: After a conviction, loan services may be less inclined to work with you. Here, you could struggle to get a home loan, car loan, or personal loan.

Financial consequences cause financial hardship. You want to do everything in your power to safeguard your future, rights, and options.

Potential Defenses to Harassment Charges in Phoenix

If you’re facing harassment charges in Phoenix, you should consider getting help from a criminal defense attorney. They know the laws surrounding harassment and can protect you from being convicted. They may use one or more of the following defenses when fighting for justice:

The Alleged Victim Made a False Claim

For whatever reason, the other party may make false allegations, hoping to damage your reputation or otherwise inflict harm. An attorney can gain the necessary evidence, such as text messages and other documentation, to question the other party’s motive.

By providing this evidence, they can poke holes in the prosecution’s case. If your lawyer can prove reasonable doubt, then the jury cannot ethically convict you.

The Alleged Victim Did Not Reasonably Feel Harassed

For the defendant to get convicted of harassment, the prosecution must prove the alleged victim reasonably felt harassed. For example, if the defendant called them two times within one day, this might not constitute harassment. The defendant would have to call enough for the victim to feel reasonably annoyed, fearful, humiliated, distressed, or alarmed.

If the case goes to a trial, the judge and jury can determine if the victim had reason to feel harassed. Meanwhile, the defense attorney can build a solid case showing that their client did not mean to intimidate, annoy, or otherwise threaten the other party.

The Prosecution Cannot Prove Its Case Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

For the prosecutor to secure a conviction, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant committed the crime. If there is any doubt, the jury cannot find them guilty.

Your defense team can use techniques to show that the prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to prove its case. This evidence may include text messages, eyewitness testimony, and timestamped photos.

What Doesn’t Constitute Harassment?

There are times when people might believe someone has harassed them, when in reality, they have not. In addition, there are situations where people can lawfully act in ways that could get confused as harassment.

These situations include:

  • When a group lawfully demonstrates, assembles, or pickets
  • When a criminal investigator has a state license to investigate and acts within the scope of their duties
  • When a process server acts within the scope of their duties, administrative actions, or proceedings

An attorney can come to your defense if you were accused of harassment yet acted within your rights. For example, just because someone feels annoyed that there is someone picketing outside of their workplace doesn’t mean that person is committing harassment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Harassment Charges in Phoenix

If you’re facing harassment charges, you could have many questions as you weigh your options. You deserve all the information necessary to make informed decisions about your future. Here are some questions and answers.

What Should I Do if I’m Accused of Harassment?

If you’re facing charges of harassment, you should consider legal help. As noted, a defense attorney can fight for the best possible outcome, whether that means a “not guilty” verdict or a reduction in the charges you face.

Other considerations include:

  • Refraining from contacting the other party. Your harassment charges could arise from a misunderstanding between you and your accuser. Yet, reaching out and attempting to settle things amicably could just make things worse. They could accuse you of trying to pressure or intimidate them into dropping charges.
  • Limiting your social media posts. The prosecution could use anything you post online as information to paint you in a bad light. Even if you have airtight security settings, you should refrain from posting any photos, status updates, or comments.
  • Don’t retaliate. Being accused of harassment can cloud your judgment. You may want to retaliate against your accuser to channel those negative emotions. Yet, doing so could only make the prosecutor’s case more compelling.

You should always use your best judgment when navigating the legal process. A criminal defense lawyer can examine your situation and explain more.

Does Harassment Have to be Verbal?

No. State law notes that harassment can come in many forms, ranging from the written word to physical contact. Some forms of harassment can even fall outside of these parameters, depending on the situation.

Could I Be Convicted of a Crime I Didn’t Commit?

If the prosecution can assemble a compelling case that erases all doubt about your guilt, you could face jail time even if you legitimately did nothing wrong. This makes it all the more important to consider legal representation. By hiring a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer, you hire an advocate who prioritizes your future.

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