Have you been charged with the nebulous crime of harassment in Arizona? This is a complex term referring to a number of different kinds of crimes, some of which are simple to prove, and some of which are not. According to A.R.S. 13-2921, harassment is based largely on intent to cause harm or distress to another person, and can lead to the more serious charge of aggravated harassment.
Harassment is defined in several different ways. These include:
These forms of harassment are classified as class 1 misdemeanor offenses, but more severe charges may also apply. Harassment can also include:
To summarize: harassment may result from an individual trying to get “revenge” on a law enforcement officer. Harassment against a public officer or employee is classified as a class 6 or class 5 felony.
The definition of harassment does not include otherwise lawful demonstrations, picketing, or assemblies of people. Rather, it is solely defined as conduct directed at a specific individual that would cause any reasonable individual to be alarmed or annoyed, or that which actively alarms or annoys the individual.
In the case of a class 5 felony, punishment can include up to 1 year in jail, or between 6 months and 2.5 years in prison. These consequences are increased if the convicted party has one or more previous convictions of harassment against a governmental official.
If the harassment takes place against a non-governmental official, resulting in a class 1 misdemeanor, a convicted individual may face up to 6 months in jail, 3 years of probation (potentially including classes, counseling, or both), and a fine of up to $2,500.
There are a number of potential defenses for harassment charges. For example, if the defendant has assembled a lawful demonstration or constitutionally picketed activity, he or she is exercising his or her right to the first amendment in a public, political arena. This is a perfectly legal activity and does not constitute harassment.
Many harassment cases arise in domestic squabbles. The accused may have caused unintentional harm to the accuser. If the accuser perceives a threat or feels emotionally harmed, he or she may press charges even if the effects of these actions were unintentional. Harassment charges may also be filed if one spouse wants to undermine the other’s potential for custody in divorce cases.
If you’ve been arrested for harassment, you may have been falsely accused. Don’t attempt to defend yourself, however; hire an attorney who knows how to navigate all sides of the system. At the Stewart Law Group, you’ll work with Attorney Scott Stewart, a Phoenix harassment attorney experienced on the prosecutorial side of the law, allowing you to gain leverage and prove your innocence.