Phoenix Harassment Defense Attorney
If you are facing a harassment or aggravated harassment charge, the consequences could be significant. Harassment may not sound like a serious matter, but even simple harassment can be a felony in Arizona. In some cases, the offense is charged as aggravated harassment, which is always a felony.
In any event, a harassment conviction can have major consequences. Speak to an experienced Phoenix criminal lawyer who knows the law and who can provide you with the best chance of successfully challenging the state’s case. Call The Feldman Law Firm for a free consultation.
What is Harassment Under Arizona Law?
The crime of harassment is defined in A.R.S. 13-2921. The statue says, in part, that harassment is conduct that:
- Is directed toward a specific person,
- Would lead a reasonable person to be alarmed, annoyed or harassed, and
- Actually causes the other person to be alarmed, annoyed or harassed.
One of the problems with the definition, of course, is that it uses the word “harassed,” which is undefined, to define the term “harassment.” Be that as it may, the crime can be committed in a number of ways, each of which is set forth in the statute. You commit harassment if you intend to harass another person, or know that you are doing so, by:
- Contacting or communicating with the person, anonymously or otherwise, in a manner that causes harassment. The communication can be face-to-face, electronic (email, texting, etc.), by phone or in writing.
- Following the other person in or around a public place after being asked to stop, provided you have no legitimate purpose in following the person.
- Repeatedly committing harassing acts toward the other person.
- Surveilling (closely observing) the other person for no legitimate reason or causing another person to do so.
- Making, more than one time, a false report about the other person to the police, to a credit agency, or to a social service agency.
- Interfering with the other person’s receipt of utility services.
- Improperly filing a lien against a public officer or employee.
Most of these offenses are class 1 misdemeanors. Improperly filing a lien against a public officer or employer is a class 5 felony.
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What is Aggravated Harassment?
In certain cases, the law treats harassment more severely than in others. Simple harassment is in most situations a misdemeanor. Aggravated harassment, on the other hand, is always a felony.
Aggravated harassment consists of harassment, as defined above, with one of two additional elements:
- The harassment violated an order of protection or a court-ordered injunction against harassment in favor of the person who has allegedly been harassed, and against the defendant. A first offense under this section is a class 6 felony. A second offense is a class 5 felony.
- The defendant has one or more prior domestic violence convictions, and at least one involved the same person allegedly harassed in the current case. This is a class 5 felony.
These offenses carry serious penalties if you are convicted, along with a record of being a convicted felon. Your best protection, if you are charged with any form of harassment or aggravated harassment, is to be represented by an experienced criminal lawyer, who can challenge the evidence and raise any relevant defenses.
Defenses to Harassment Charges
In order to prove a harassment case, the prosecutor must present evidence of a number of things. There must be evidence not only of the conduct complained of – communicating, surveilling, filing a false report, etc. – but also that the acts were intended to harass the particular person, that they would cause a reasonable person to be fearful or annoyed, and that they in fact accomplished that intended purpose. Therefore, if you did not possess the requisite intent, or the alleged victim’s fear or annoyance was not reasonable, or if in fact the alleged victim was not truly annoyed or alarmed, then the facts do not satisfy the statute, and you are not guilty of harassment.
Harassment Defense Lawyer in Phoenix
Harassment may be a misdemeanor or a felony. It may allegedly involve what some might consider serious acts. But harassment is an easy charge to make against a person, and the charge can be and sometimes is used as a weapon, particularly in domestic violence situations. In other cases, there is simply insufficient proof that the crime was committed.
At The Feldman Law Firm, we understand the law of harassment. We are also experienced in identifying defenses to the charge, and spotting weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. If you have been charged with harassment, and you want a law firm that will work hard to ensure that you receive the best possible result, contact us for a free consultation, and obtain an honest evaluation of your case.