Crimes like harassment and stalking are difficult to face. I have represented people who have been charged with offenses like this and didn’t believe they were doing anything wrong. If you are facing charges like this, however, you need a criminal defense attorney whether you believe you are at fault or not.
Potential prison time and lucrative fines are possible when facing charges like these. This is no time to waiver in your choice of attorneys. Choose someone who you feel confident can represent your best interests.
One of the tricky things about harassment and stalking crimes is that they most often occur between two parties that know each other. Whether you are accused of aggressively pursuing someone you were interested in or losing your temper with someone in your life—I can help.
Massachusetts Harassment Laws
Harassment is defined under Massachusetts statutes as “willfully and maliciously” engaging in behavior that alarms a person or would cause a reasonable person emotional distress. The acts can occur in person, over the telephone, or over the Internet via email or social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat.
In order to be convicted of this offense, the prosecution must prove you engaged in a pattern, or committed a series of these harassing acts over time.
If convicted of criminal harassment, could face up to 2 ½ years in prison and fines reaching $1,000. If this is the second or subsequent time you have faced this charge, your potential sentence is increased to 2 ½ to 10 years in prison.
Don’t face these kinds of penalties without an aggressive legal defense. Contact me today.
Ref: MGL c.265 §43A
Massachusetts Stalking Laws & Penalties
Stalking laws can be confusing. While I can tell you a potential sentence, generally speaking, you never truly know what you are up against until you speak with a criminal defense attorney one on one.
Generally, stalking is defined as “willfully and maliciously” acting in a manner to annoy or alarm someone and making a threat with the intent of making that person afraid for their life or wellbeing. These actions must be done in a series or pattern, similar to harassment.
If convicted of a general stalking offense you will face up to 5 years in prison and fines reaching $1,000.
If you are convicted of stalking in violation of a protection order you will face a mandatory minimum 1 year in prison and up to 5 years.
If you are convicted of stalking for a second or subsequent offense you will be sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 2 years and up to 10 years in prison.
Ref: MGL c.265 §43
Both of these offenses, either harassment or stalking require the prosecution to prove that you acted in a willful and malicious manner. This simply means that you meant to act that way and did it with negative intentions.
Can I be charged with harassment online?
Yes, you can. We recently defended a client accused of harassment via Snapchat, by sending unwanted messages.
Any online messaging service, texting, or social media app can be the source of a criminal harassment charge.
What is a Harassment Order?
A harassment order is essentially the same as a restraining order, but it can apply to someone with whom isn’t a relative or someone with whom you have a domestic relationship, i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend, or roommate.
Any passive or accidental contact can result in a violation of a harassment order criminal charge (Violation of a 258E Harassment Order).
Even simply driving by a person’s house, or of the person believes you called and hung up, or were near their car when they weren’t there, can be a violation of the terms of a harassment order.
Is Harassment a Hate Crime?
Harassment could potentially be a hate crime, if you are harassing someone in a bias-motivated manner based on their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
Intent to violate a person’s Constitutional rights based on those biases is a violation of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, which is a civil offense. But if you “interfere with or oppress someone in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or the laws of the Commonwealth”, it is a crime punishable by up to a year in jail under Chapter 365, Section 37 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Free Consultation on Massachusetts Harassment Laws
As your defense lawyer, I will make sure and look at all the fact of the case, from the time of your arrest until now. Your case deserves that kind of individualized treatment and you deserve someone willing to go to the mats for you.
Whether you are facing your first harassment charge or you are charged with stalking in violation of a protection order, I can help. Contact me immediately to discuss the details of your case.