Under Washington law, a person commits Harassment by: (1) threatening to hurt someone; (2), threatening to damage someone else’s property; (3), threatening to restrain someone; or (4) threatening to kill someone. The accused must “by words or conduct” place the victim in reasonable fear that the threat will be carried out. Another category of Harassment protects “criminal justice participants,” like judges, lawyers, and victim advocates.
Harassment is generally a gross misdemeanor, punishable by 0-364 days in jail. However, aggravating factors can elevate the crime to a felony. This applies to people with previous convictions for Harassment. Harassment can also be charged as a felony when the victim is the subject of a no-contact order previously issued by a court. Harassing a “criminal justice participant” can also support a felony Harassment charge.
We often see Harassment charged in Domestic Violence situations, where statements are made during arguments over relationships or child custody issues.
Depending on the facts involved, potential Harassment penalties can vary greatly. The penalties can range from no jail to prison time, depending on the circumstances. If you are charged with Harassment, or think you are at risk, contact an experienced Harassment attorney for advice specific to your case.