Harassment is a crime that could lead to several other issues for a defendant. Not only could be a defendant be arrested for this crime, but they could face other legal consequences like the imposition of a restraining order. If you were arrested for harassment, you should contact an experienced Philadelphia harassment defense lawyer today. The Law Offices of Lloyd Long understands the stress of being charged with a crime like harassment, and we here for you in your time of need. Our firm is here to explain what happens when a person is charged with harassment in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Harassment Laws
Harassment is a crime that can be committed in a number of ways. Pennsylvania defines harassment as the intent to “harass, annoy or alarm” another person. There are several actions that can qualify as harassment:
- Striking or shoving another person or attempting to make unwanted physical contact with another person
- Threatening to harm another person
- Following another person around public or private places
- Committing conduct that does not serve any legitimate purpose
- Communicating or threatening another with lewd conduct, obscenities, language
- Frequent and unwanted communications intended to be anonymous
- Frequent communications at inappropriate hours of the day
If a defendant engages in the harassment of a child using the internet, this could lead to an offense for cyber harassment. In addition to the actions named above, a defendant can be charged with cyber harassment of a child if they use the internet to make derogatory statements about a child’s physical appearance, sexual orientation, physical health, and other related comments.
While stalking is a separate offense that carries its own penalties, some aspects of harassment could lead to a defendant being charged with stalking. To be charged with stalking, a defendant must repeatedly exhibit conduct that places another person in reasonable fear of being attacked or that causes substantial emotional distress. For example, consistently visiting or watching a person’s home without their consent can result in a person being arrested for stalking.
There are other actions not listed above that could result in a person being arrested and charged with harassment. To learn more about the penalties for harassment in Pennsylvania, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Philadelphia sexual harassment defense attorney today.
Criminal Penalties for Harassment or Stalking
The criminal penalties for harassment and stalking can vary depending on the circumstances of the defendant’s case. The grading of an offense will also determine the type of penalties that may be imposed on a defendant upon conviction. For example, some forms of harassment will fall be considered a summary offense. If convicted for a summary offense, a defendant can serve 90 days in jail and owe a fine of $300.
Other acts of harassment can be graded as a third degree misdemeanor. A misdemeanor of the third degree is punishable by one year in prison and $2,000 in fines. It is important to note that these penalties can be enhanced if the defendant has harassed a person that has obtained a protection from abuse (PFA) order against them. A PFA is intended to protect a victim of abuse from an individual that may seek to cause them harm or that has harmed them in the past.
If a defendant violates a PFA while committing harassment, their offense will be enhanced by one degree. This means that a third degree misdemeanor can be upgraded to a second degree misdemeanor which carries a maximum two-year sentence and $5,000 in fines.
A first offense for stalking is typically charged as a first degree misdemeanor. In Pennsylvania, first degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Similar to harassment, the penalties for stalking can be enhanced under certain circumstances. For example, stalking a person that you were previously convicted of stalking will result in an enhanced offense.
An enhanced offense for stalking will change the crime for a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony or higher. The sentencing guidelines for even the lowest grade of felonies begin at seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
These are just some of the consequences that can come with a conviction for harassment or stalking. A conviction for this type of crime can follow you for the rest of your life and affect aspects of your life like employability and even the ability to obtain housing. If you were arrested for harassment, do not waste any time in contacting an experienced lawyer.
Consult with a Trusted Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you or a family member was arrested for harassment, consult with an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney today. The Law Offices of Lloyd Long are dedicated to providing our clients with the unique legal representation they deserve. Our firm avoids taking a high volume of cases to ensure that we provide each client with our undivided attention. You do not have to fight your legal battles alone. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact the Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171, or contact us online.