In Washington state, a threat, no matter how it was meant, can be perceived as harassment and can lead to criminal charges against you.
Penalties can vary from fines and probation to time behind bars. If you have been accused of harassment, it is important to arm yourself with knowledge and excellent representation as you try to move forward.
Read on for more information about Washington State harassment laws, and call the attorneys at Will & Will for legal help.
What Is Harassment in Washington State?
Harassment laws in Washington state are very clear about what harassment is and is not. It is more than following someone around or making unwanted comments. Under Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.46.020, any of the following actions — whether in person or over the phone or internet — could be considered harassment:
- Threatening to hurt someone
- Saying you will damage someone else’s property
- Threatening to restrain or confine someone
- Saying you will carry out any other action that would hurt someone mentally or physically
Adding to the above, intent is not an issue. Washington State harassment laws specify that there has to be a reasonable belief on the part of the alleged victim that the accused would have or could have actually carried out the threatened action.
State law makes it clear that everyone has a right to freedom from harm, whether that harm is threatened or actual. Victims have a right to call the police from which criminal charges can flow.
Penalties for Harassment in Washington State
Anyone who is found guilty of harassment can be charged with a gross misdemeanor. This is punishable by 364 days in jail and $5,000 in fines (Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.20.030).
However, those who have been convicted of harassment before, threaten to kill someone or threaten someone involved in a criminal trial can be charged with a Class C felony. This is punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Legal Options After Being Accused of Harassment
Being charged with harassment is serious. A conviction could leave you in prison for as long as five years. And you could be stuck with up to $10,000 in fines.
With serious penalties like that on the line — and keeping in mind that so many harassment accusations are actually false — you cannot afford to sit back and hope this will all go away. Unless you fight back, it simply won’t disappear.
The good news is that an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight against your harassment charge.
Armed with a deep knowledge of Washington State harassment laws and years of experience, your lawyer can gather evidence to prove that you did not harass the victim. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. Or maybe the accusation is an outright lie. What was the motive? What was happening at the time? No matter the case, a criminal defense lawyer can help try to bring the truth to light and escape serious criminal punishments.
Harassment Is Serious. Will & Will Can Help
The harassment laws Washington state has in place are meant to serve our citizens. Those who have been victims of harassment deserve justice. And those who have been accused of harassment deserve a fair fight in court.
We can help. At Will & Will, we have more than 35 years of combined experience in criminal law. We have dedicated our lives to helping the accused. We’re ready to do the same for you. To get started, contact Will & Will at 206-858-1380, or contact us online.