Harassment is something that a lot of people have heard about in the past. Many people associate this type of behavior with workplace harassment, but some people might not realize that harassment can occur anywhere and at any moment. You don't have to be at work to harass someone. In fact, some acts of harassment are criminal acts that can lead to criminal charges and serious penalties.
Generally, harassment that is criminal occurs when someone does things that are meant to terrorize, annoy, torment or alarm another person. That, however, doesn't mean that all annoying actions are automatically considered harassment.
In most cases, there has to be an element of threat present for a criminal harassment act to occur. This means that the person who is being harassed has to have his or her safety or his or her family's safety threatened. Those threats must be credible.
Harassment can occur in a variety of ways. Stalking, menacing and cyberstalking are all forms of harassment. In some cases, those specific crimes fall under more specific laws than just general harassment. In some cases, an accusation of harassment or any of these other charges will result in a protective order being issued. That order must be complied with or you might face additional charges.
Being convicted of harassment comes with a host of consequences. Because the charges can range from misdemeanor up to a high-level felony, the penalties vary greatly. With that in mind, you should work to understand the specific penalties that are possible with your specific charge. From then, you can decide how you want to proceed with a defense.
Source: FindLaw, "Harassment," accessed June 25, 2015