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What Is the Crime of Harassment?




Question: What Is the Crime of Harassment?
Answer: The crime of harassment is any kind of behavior that is intended to annoy, disturb, alarm, torment, upset or terrorize someone. For criminal harassment to occur, in most jurisdictions, the behavior must present a credible threat to the victim's safety.

Most states also have varying levels of harassment charges based on the circumstances surrounding the behavior and the method used to do the harassing. The level of the crime can be different for harassment conducted in person, on the telephone, via mail or electronically.

Other factors that can change a harassment charge from a misdemeanor to a serious felony include:

  • If the person is a repeat offender
  • If the person is under a restraining order
  • If the harassment is a hate crime

Many states have separate laws for specific types of harassment, such as stalking and cyberstalking (electronic harassment).

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