An individual can face harassment charges in many different scenarios. A text message sent out of anger, a spiteful Facebook comment, or even a fist raised can lead to harassment charges. In some cases, an individual is charged with harassment without sincerely intending to harm another person.
Harassment laws in Washington can be difficult to understand. Seattle criminal defense attorney Steve Karimi helps to explain harassment laws and what happens if you are charged with the crime.
What is Harassment?
Harassment is a crime when an individual knowingly threatens any of the following acts against another person:
- To cause bodily injury immediately or in the future to the person threatened or to any other person;
- To cause physical damage to the property of another person;
- To subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint; or
- Maliciously to do any other act which is intended to substantially harm the person threatened or another with respect to his or her physical or mental health or safety.
A harassment conviction requires a showing that an individual's words or conduct placed the victim in reasonable fear that any of the above threats would be carried out. A threat can be communicated by using words in speech or writing. Conduct is non-verbal body language, such as a raised fist or swing of an arm.
Washington specifically includes electronic communications as a means by which a harassment threat can be communicated. An individual can be charged with harassment by sending text messages or emails containing threatening words, videos or images, and by creating or leaving threatening comments on social media accounts such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
What Happens If I've Been Charged with Harassment by Citation?
It may come as a surprise that you can be charged with harassment by citation instead of being formally arrested. A defendant who is charged by citation is required to appear in criminal court for arraignment no later than fourteen days following the issuance of the citation. At that court appearance, the judge will determine the necessity of imposing a no-contact or no-harassment order.
What Happens at a Harassment Court Arraignment?
If you are required to appear in court for harassment charges, a no-contact or no-harassment order may be issued against you, depending on the evidence in your case. A no-contact order will require that you stay away from the victim's home, school, business, or place of employment or location where the alleged harassment occurred. You may be ordered to refrain from contacting, intimidating, threatening, or otherwise interfering with the victim and members of the family or household of the victim.
Criminal Defense Attorney Steve Karimi Can Help
Seattle based attorney Steve Karimi has defended individuals charged with harassment crimes for years. As a former prosecutor, attorney Karimi understands how to build a strong defense to criminal charges. If you've been charged with harassment in Washington, contact The Law Offices of Steve Karimi by calling 206-660-6200 24 hours a day for a free consultation.