Bellevue Harassment Lawyers
Defending the Accused for 40+ Combined Years
Harassment can occur in various ways. It is not a one-size-fits-all offense, which is why harassment can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in Washington State, depending on the circumstances involved in the alleged offense. The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony can make all the difference in your life, so it’s important to look for an attorney who has the experience, know-how, and legal resources needed to help get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.
Look no further, as you’ve come to the right place!
At Veitch Ault Defense, our Bellevue harassment attorneys have defended clients who were in your shoes, working tirelessly to negotiate for the best possible outcome on their behalf. By investing the time, efforts, and proper legal tools, we’ve achieved countless successful outcomes for the accused. You could potentially be next if you act fast and retain our firm for all your legal defense needs. We are transparent and straightforward every step of the way, leaving no stone unturned.
Unlawful Harassment in Washington State
Harassment can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the nature and circumstances of the offense. Harassment will be charged as a gross misdemeanor in most instances unless the defendant used words or acted in such a way that placed the victim in reasonable fear that the threat would be carried out. Gross misdemeanors are punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $5,000.
On the other hand, harassment in Washington State will be charged as a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine if any of the following apply:
- The person has previously been convicted of harassment of the same victim or members of the victim’s family or household or any person named in a no-contact or no-harassment order
- The person harasses another person by threatening to kill the person or any other person
- The person harasses a criminal justice participant who is performing their official duties
- The person harasses a criminal justice participant because of any action taken or decision they made during the performance of their official duties
With these penalties in mind, The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) defines harassment as a person who knowingly and without authority threatens to do the following:
- Cause bodily injury
- Cause damage to property
- Subject another to physical confinement
- Maliciously act with the intention to substantially harm someone
A person is also guilty of harassment in Washington state if they, by words or conduct, place the threatened person in reasonable fear that the threat will be carried out. Generally, the prosecution has the burden of proving the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant of harassment:
- The accused knowingly and without authority threatened to cause bodily injury
- The accused knowingly and without authority threatened to cause damage to property
- The accused knowingly and without authority threatened to subject another to physical confinement
- The accused knowingly and without authority threatened to maliciously act with the intention to substantially harm someone
Further, the defendant’s words or conduct must have placed another in reasonable fear such threat(s) would be carried out.
For instance, if you yelled at someone saying, “I will kill you!” and reach for something in your bag thereafter, that person may be in reasonable fear that your threat will be carried out, particularly because they may assume you’re grabbing a gun, knife, or another deadly weapon from your bag. As we mentioned before, threatening to kill someone is considered a class C felony harassment offense in Washington State.
That said, harassment is a nuanced area of criminal law because it is subjective. Some people may feel threatened that a perpetrator will hurt them or harm their property under certain circumstances, but others will not under those same circumstances.
A harassment charge is a mere allegation. As noted above, there are specific requirements for a prosecuting agency to be able to prove a harassment charge. Specifically, the alleged victim’s fear that any threat would be carried out must have been reasonable
Take another example, perhaps. Let’s say you still have feelings for your ex-partner, and you resent them for ending the relationship. You leave notes on their windshield every so often, and those notes contain blackmail-like threats such as, “Sleep with one eye open tonight,” “Watch your back,” and “You will regret what you did to me.” Since you are lurking around your ex’s property (their house and vehicle) and leaving notes of this nature, they would have reason to believe that something bad could actually happen. You know where they live, and considering the circumstances of the breakup, they could reasonably believe that such threats could be carried out.
In this case, you could face gross misdemeanor charges or even felony charges if your notes amounted to death threats.
While most people associate Harassment as a repetitive behavior, such can, in fact, stem from a single alleged threat to another person. Such threats are not limited to face-to-face interactions. Rather, harassment charges result from communication via text, voicemail, and social media.
Accused of Harassment? We’re Here to Help.
Harassment charges should not be taken lightly. Although the word can be casually “thrown around” in conversations, it carries a heavy weight in reality. Harassment is both a criminal and civil offense, so don’t be fooled into thinking that you will be let off the hook. Time is of the essence, so we strongly encourage you to retain our Bellevue harassment lawyers at Veitch Ault Defense right away so we can start building your defense.
Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help.
2122 112th Ave. NE, Suite A200
Bellevue, WA 98004
20102 Cedar Valley Rd., Suite 104
Lynnwood, WA 98036
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