Pittsburgh Harassment Defense Lawyer
People can be irritating, especially when they take it upon themselves to constantly criticize you, do small things to deliberately antagonize you, or tell you what to think and how to conduct your life. But this type of treatment, whether from neighbors or strangers, rarely rises to the level of criminal harassment, although it can certainly have a negative impact on your life.
But criminal harassment goes way beyond a failure of boundaries or good manners. The bottom line is that while it is anyone’s right and privilege to be a rude person, you may not go out of your way to cause real harm or a major disturbance or serious annoyance to others for no good reason. If you’re facing criminal harassment charges, contact our Pittsburgh harassment defense lawyer today.
Ethnic Intimidation and Disorderly Conduct as Forms of Criminal Harassment
There are some situations in which ordinary harassment crosses a line and becomes a criminal act in Pennsylvania. One of these is ethnic intimidation, which is harassment based on race, color, national origin, or religion. Another is disorderly conduct, or behavior deliberately aimed at causing public alarm, annoyance, or inconvenience or creates a risk of any of the above with reckless disregard for others. Examples of harassment that can be considered as Disorderly Conduct in Pennsylvania include:
- Making excessive noise
- Using lewd or obscene language
- Making lewd or obscene gestures
- Displaying offensive of lewd graphic materials
- Shouting and screaming
- Following a person closely in a manner intended to intimidate
- Attempting to pick a fight or actually fighting
- Calling or communicating with the target at inappropriate or purposefully inconvenient times
- Creating a dangerous condition or a condition likely to be physically offensive to others for no other reason than to offend or intimidate
Disorderly conduct charges arising out of any of these behaviors is a third-degree misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you could spend up to a year in jail if it can be proven that your intent was to harm or seriously inconvenience the victim, or if you are shown to have persisted in the behavior after being asked to stop. Hiring a strongPittsburgh harassment defense attorney can help lessen your jail time and other penalties or prove your innocence.
If the prosecutor cannot prove this intent, however, it is a summary offense for which the maximum sentence is 90 days.
Loitering and Prowling
Loitering and prowling at night time in the vicinity of homes other than your own, done maliciously with the intent to frighten or disturb the residents of the area, is another form of harassment under Pennsylvania law. Similar to Disorderly Conduct, it is a third degree misdemeanor, which can earn you a sentence of up to a year in jail.
Illegal Photographing and Videoing
Furthermore, it is illegal in Pennsylvania to take photos, video, or film of certain “intimate” parts of a person’s body, even if covered by clothing, without that person’s consent, in any place where the subject would reasonably expect privacy, for example a dressing room, public restroom, locker room, or hotel room; or to take a photo from an angle such as up under a woman’s skirt or down her blouse to capture a body part not typically shown in public. This type of harassment is also a third-degree misdemeanor that can get you as much as a year in jail.
There have been a number of extremely tragic cases reported in the news recently of “cyberbullying” of children, called “cyber harassment of a child” in Pennsylvania’s statutes. Using the internet or other electronic means to harass a child, either directly or via social media, can result in serious psychological damage to the victim. In a few cases this form of harassment has even driven vulnerable children to commit suicide. Cyber harassment of a child is illegal in Pennsylvania.
Stalking in Pennsylvania
Similar to harassment, but more serious under Pennsylvania law, is the crime of stalking. State statutes define stalking as “engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly communicating to another person, repeatedly committing acts to another person, or repeatedly following the other person without proper authority, in a manner which exhibits intent to place that person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional stress to that person.”
If you have been charged with stalking someone, and it is your first offense, it will be classified as a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. But if you have been convicted of stalking previously, or if your alleged victim is someone you have been charged with stalking before, the prosecutor can file the stalking charge as a third degree felony, which could put you away for up to seven years. Call Pittsburgh harassment defense lawyer Gary Gerson for talented legal representation.
Getting the Legal Help You Need From a Pittsburgh Harassment Defense Lawyer
Harassment, cyber harassment, and stalking charges are a threat to your freedom, and even more so to your reputation and standing in the community. To avoid the consequences of a conviction, you will want to retain a very experienced Pennsylvania defense attorney to represent you. There are various defenses available, the most obvious one being that your intent was not to harass anyone but simple to exercise your First Amendment right to freedom of expression. You might assert that of your behavior did not rise to the level of criminal harassment, that your utterances were misheard or misunderstood, or that that you were not the person responsible for the harassment. But winning an acquittal is not accomplished easily, and your attorney should be one who understands the nuances of the law, who can conduct successful negotiations with the prosecutor, and who knows how to prepare and present a strong case to a jury, in the event you choose to exercise your right to a trial.
For the experienced representation that is most likely to produce the best outcome for you, call the law offices of Pittsburgh harassment defense lawyer Gary Gerson. Put Gary’s 25 plus years of experience to work in your behalf, beginning at the very earliest stage of the process, preferably even before charges have been filed. But whatever the current status of your criminal harassment case, you will benefit from the help Gary can provide. So don’t delay; call now.