Let a Pittsburgh Harassment Attorney Help You Fight Back
If you’ve been charged with harassment in Pennsylvania, you could be exposed to significant criminal penalties depending on the circumstances giving rise to the harassment at issue. Further, in today’s social climate, the mere mention of harassment could send your life tumbling into a free-fall.
It’s therefore critical that you work with a qualified Pittsburgh harassment attorney who understands how to quickly and effectively develop a strong case strategy and negotiate a resolution to the case at-hand. Contact McKinney Law to setup an appointment with one of our attorneys today.
The Elements of a Harassment Charge in Pennsylvania
Section 2709 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes defines harassment. According to the statute, a person commits the crime of harassment when, with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm another, they:
- Subject the other person to physical contact, or attempt or threaten to do the same;
- Follow the other person in or about a public place; or
- Engage in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which serve no legitimate purpose.
When the defendant has been found to have committed one of the above listed acts, the harassment case will be prosecuted as a summary offense.
A person also commits the crime of harassment when, with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm another, they:
- Communicate to or about such other person any lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures;
- Communicate repeatedly in an anonymous manner;
- Communicate repeatedly at extremely inconvenient hours; or
- Communicate repeatedly in some other manner.
When the defendant has been found to have committed one of the above listed acts, the harassment case will be prosecuted as a third-degree misdemeanor.
Cyber harassment of a child is a related offense that involves (again with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm) the defendant’s engagement in a continuing course of conduct of electronically making:
- Seriously disparaging statements or opinions about the child’s physical characteristics, sexuality, sexual activity or mental or physical health or condition; or
- Threats to inflict harm.
Cyber harassment is prosecuted as a third-degree misdemeanor.
Summary offenses are punishable by up to three months imprisonment and up to $300 in total fines. Third-degree misdemeanors, on the other hand, are punishable by up to a year of imprisonment and up to $2,500 in total fines.
If you have been charged with harassment for behavior that would qualify for prosecution as a summary offense, the offense may be upgraded to a third-degree misdemeanor in situations where you already have a harassment-related offense on your record.
Defenses to Harassment
Lack of Intent
Harassment requires the intent to harass, annoy or alarm another. Conduct that would otherwise qualify as harassment – such as following another person in a public place – does not actually qualify without the intent to harass, annoy or alarm that person.
For example, if you are simply going for a walk around a plaza, and your pattern of walking happens to be tracking the movements of another person (incidentally), you cannot be found guilty of harassment.
False or Exaggerated Accusation
False reports are unfortunately common in the harassment context. Some victims may feel that by accusing the defendant of harassment, they can exercise power over them. A mere accusation can have a significant negative impact on the life of the defendant, but criminal litigation can be even more devastating.
Though actual proof of a false or exaggerated accusation will allow you to avoid liability for harassment, if you can establish that the victim might have had the intention to cause harm to you (i.e., they were involved with you as a friend or in a relationship and felt betrayed, they wanted revenge, etc.), then you can undermine the credibility of their accusations.
In many harassment cases, the behavior at issue may not be clearly linked to the accused. As such, it’s not uncommon for the victim to actually experience harassment, but – in their emotional rush to accuse someone – to mistakenly attribute the cause of the harassment to the wrong individual. If the harassment did occur, but you can introduce evidence that effectively undermines the assertion that you were the perpetrator, you may be able to avoid liability altogether.
Contact an Experienced Pittsburgh Harassment Attorney at McKinney Law for a Free and Confidential Consultation
If you’ve been charged with harassment, you may be feeling confused by the prospect of criminal litigation. Depending on the circumstances, you might not have realized that the behavior that you are being accused of qualified as harassment. Further, many cases of harassment involve insufficient evidence and unsupported claims.
Here at McKinney Law, our attorneys have extensive experience representing the interests of those who have been accused of various criminal offenses, including harassment. We are client-oriented advocates who approach each case in a comprehensive manner. We work closely with our clients to ensure that we have all the information necessary to develop a winning case strategy and act decisively on their behalf.
Schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Pittsburgh harassment attorney at McKinney Law. Call (412) 520-3301 or submit a no-obligation case evaluation form online.