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Stalking and Harassment Crimes in Pennsylvania

Stalking and harassment are both serious crimes in Pennsylvania. Even a minor offense may be a summary offense with a possibility of 90 days in jail and a fine. Stalking charges may be as serious as a third-degree felony. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand the differences between stalking and harassment crimes in Pennsylvania and take action to fight for your rights.

What is considered harassment in Pennsylvania?

What is considered harassment in Pennsylvania is conduct with the intent to harass or annoy another person. It may include striking, touching, following, communicating and engaging in other conduct that serves no legitimate purpose. Pennsylvania law 2709 lists the different actions that may be considered harassment in Pennsylvania.

What is the punishment for harassment in Pennsylvania?

The punishment for harassment in Pennsylvania is up to one year in jail. You may also receive a fine of up to $2,500. The court may sentence a defendant to any sentence up to the maximum amounts. Probation, rehabilitation and restitution may also be possible. Not all harassment charges are third-degree misdemeanors with a penalty of up to one year in jail. Some offenses are charged summarily with a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.

What is considered stalking in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, stalking is a course of conduct or repeated acts that are intended to place a person in fear or cause significant emotional distress. It can also occur when a person engages in a court of conduct with the intent to put a person in fear of bodily harm or cause emotional distress. Stalking is different than harassment because of the more serious course of conduct and intent required by the offender. Stalking in Pennsylvania may be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony when certain conditions are present.

What do you need to know if you’re charged with harassment or stalking?

If you’re charged with harassment or stalking, know that you have the right to the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. You have a right to a trial. The state must prove the evidence against you beyond a reasonable doubt, and the jury must agree that you are guilty. You are not guilty just because you’re being charged or accused.

Stalking and harassment charges are often based on the statement of another person. Of course, your version of events may vary significantly from this person’s view of the events. They may even be responsible for making a false report. Because the crime often comes down to the credibility of a witness, it’s very important to prepare your defense. Effective cross-examination and questioning of the witness testimony can be crucial to your defense. 

Witnesses have all kinds of motivation for coming forward with stalking and harassment allegations. As a defendant, it’s fair for you to question these biases in order to help the jury determine the true facts. If you’re facing stalking or harassment charges, a criminal defense attorney can help you prepare a comprehensive defense that’s designed to protect your legal rights.

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