Harassment Charges in Arizona
Being charged with harassment, intimidation, or threatening can expose you to criminal liability, including jail, fines, and other consequences. Depending on the circumstances, these offenses can also be charged as crimes of domestic violence and result in enhanced penalties. Having a conviction on our record can also lead to other ongoing consequences in your life and potentially affect your ability to find a good job or housing or to secure credit.
What might occur after you face charges with intimidation, threatening, or harassment will depend on the circumstances and facts of your case and whether you can build a strong defense against the allegations against you. If you are convicted and have an otherwise clean record, you might avoid a jail sentence.
However, being convicted of one of these offenses can still result in a sentence to probation, a fine, mandatory classes, and community service hours. With the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney at Gurion Legal, you might be able to obtain a better outcome in your case.
Below is a brief overview of each of these offenses, the penalties they carry, and defenses that you might be able to raise against them.
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What is Harassment?
In Arizona, criminal harassment occurs when a person acts in a way towards a specific person that would reasonably cause him or her to feel annoyed, harassed, or alarmed when the alleged victim does experience annoyance, feelings of harassment, or alarm as a result. This offense is codified in ARS 13-2921.
Under this statute, the police can charge you with harassment if you intentionally harass or know that you are harassing the target and do any of the following things:
- Contact or anonymously contact, communicate with, or causes a communication with the targeted person verbally, electronically, telephonically, mechanically, or telegraphically or in writing in a harassing manner
- Continue to follow the target around in public for no legitimate reason after they have asked you to stop
- Repeatedly do something that the target finds harassing
- Surveil or have someone else surveil the target for no legitimate reason
- Makes repeated false reports to social services, credit companies, or law enforcement agencies
- Interfere with the target’s regulated or public utilities
These types of harassment are Class 1 misdemeanors. You cannot be charged with harassment for engaging in a demonstration or lawful assembly, and picketing is also not considered to be criminal harassment.
People can be charged with felony harassment under the statute when they harass a public official or an employee of a public official with the intent to harass by placing a nonconsensual lien against their property without a court order or judgment. This offense is a Class 5 felony.
What is Aggravated Harassment?
Aggravated harassment is found in ARS 13-2921.01. Under this statute, you can be charged with aggravated harassment in the following two ways:
- You intentionally harass a victim after a court has issued a protection order or an injunction against harassment in favor of the victim when you have been served with the order or injunction, and it is still valid.
- You intentionally harass a victim in one of the previously listed ways and have previously been convicted of a domestic violence offense involving the same victim.
If you harass a victim after you have been served with a protection order or injunction against harassment, it is a Class 6 felony. If you harass a victim after you have been convicted of a domestic violence offense involving the same victim, it is a Class 5 felony.
What are the Penalties for Harassment?
Most harassment offenses are Class one misdemeanors. If you are convicted of harassment as a Class one misdemeanor, you can be sentenced to serve up to six months in jail and to pay a fine of up to $2,500. The court could also sentence you to probation for up to three years.
If the offense is designated as a domestic violence offense, you can face enhanced penalties, as will be further explained below.
If you are convicted of harassing a public officer or an employee of a public officer as a first offense, you will face the following potential penalties:
- Prison ranging from a mitigated six months to an aggravated 2.5 years
- Felony fine of up to a maximum of $150,000
- Probation eligible up to 3 years
If you are convicted of harassing a public officer or an employee of a public officer when you have one prior allegeable felony, the prison range will increase to one up to 3.75 years. For two prior allegeable felonies, the prison range will be from a mitigated three years up to 7.5 years in prison.
If you are convicted of aggravated harassment of a victim after you were served with a protection order or injunction against harassment, it is a Class 5 felony with the following penalties for a first offense:
- Prison from a mitigated 0.5 years up to a maximum of two and a half years
- Felony fine up to a maximum of $150,000
- Probation eligible
If you have one prior allegeable felony and are convicted of this offense, the prison sentence will be increased to a mitigated 1 year up to an aggravated 3.75 years.
If you are convicted of aggravated harassment after being served with a protection order or injunction against harassment and have two prior allegeable felony convictions, the prison sentence range you will face will be from a mitigated 3 years up to an aggravated 7.5 years.
Charged with Threatening or Intimidating
Under ARS 13-1202, the police can charge you with intimidating or threatening if you threaten or intimidate someone through your actions or words to do any of the following things:
- To use physical force to injure a victim or their property
- To cause a serious public inconvenience or recklessly disregard a serious public inconvenience to the victim
- Make threats or intimidate the victim or their property on behalf of a criminal gang, syndicate, or racketeering enterprise
This statute does not require the victim to actually feel threatened. Instead, the court will look at whether or not you made real threats. If a reasonable person would feel threatened by the actions or words, then you will likely be found to have engaged in threats or intimidation.
Threatening or intimidating can be a Class 1 misdemeanor, Class 6 felony, or Class 3 felony, depending on the specific circumstances. If you are convicted of threatening to harm the victim or their property or to cause him to experience a serious public inconvenience, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.
Threatening or intimidating a victim is a Class 6 felony when the threats or intimidation are made in response to the victim’s report of criminal activity to a law enforcement agency or to a criminal reporting agency.
If you do not have any previous felony convictions, it carries a sentence of up to an aggravated two years. If you do have previous allegeable felony convictions, the penalties will increase.
If you are convicted of making threats or intimidating a witness on behalf of a gang, it is a Class 3 felony. A first conviction for this offense will result in a prison sentence ranging from a mitigated two years up to an aggravated 8.75 years. Second or subsequent felony convictions will result in an even longer prison sentences.
Domestic Violence Enhancement
Under ARS 13-3601, the prosecutor might designate intimidation, threatening, or harassment charges as domestic violence offenses, depending on the nature of the relationship between you and the victim.
If you are charged with intimidation, face charges with threatening, or face harassment charges, the offense can be designated as a domestic violence offense if you and the victim have one of the following relationships:
- Spouse or ex-spouse
- Currently living together or did so in the past
- Share a child together
- The victim is pregnant with your child
- Is your parent, grandparent, child, or sibling either through blood or marriage
- Child victim who lives with you and is related by blood to a former spouse or someone with whom you live or lived with
If you are charged with harassment, charged with intimidation, or face charges with threatening and have one of the above-listed relationships with the victim, the prosecutor can add the domestic violence designation.
A domestic violence conviction can also result in mandatory domestic violence classes and counseling, mandatory restraining orders, and the suspension of your rights to own or possess firearms, in addition to the other penalties for the underlying offense.
Defenses to Charges under ARS 13-1202 or ARS 13-2921
Several defenses might be raised to harassment, intimidation, or threatening charges. The prosecutor is required to prove the elements of each of these offenses beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted.
Your harassment defense attorney will carefully review the evidence and police reports to identify the best possible defenses to raise in your case. For a charge of harassment, your attorney might challenge the allegations in one of the following ways:
- Presenting evidence that you lacked the intent to harass or did not know the victim felt harassed
- Showing that the alleged victim was not annoyed or alarmed by your conduct
- Challenging the alleged victim’s testimony to show that they falsely accused you
For charges of intimidation or harassment, your defense attorney might show that you did not threaten or intimidate the alleged victim. If the alleged victim acted first, he or she might also assert an affirmative defense of self-defense.
Your lawyer might also argue that you did not make a true or credible threat and that you simply exercised your First Amendment rights to free speech. Other defenses might also be available.
Get Help with Harassment Charges from Gurion Legal
If you are facing a misdemeanor or felony harassment, intimidating, or threatening charge, it is critical for you to talk to an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.
Your highly qualified defense lawyer at Gurion Legal can review the facts of your case and discuss the defenses that might apply. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation.
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