Harassment charges in Alabama can be brought in situations involving physical contact, or in cases where there is no actual contact between the people involved but only some form of verbal or electronic communication. Commonly charged along with disorderly conduct, criminal harassment is classified as a misdemeanor, but that does not mean that the offense lacks serious consequences.
In addition to creation of a criminal record which may negatively impact housing choices, employment, your finances and personal relationships, a conviction for harassment could result in a sentence of up to three months in jail and a heavy fine. If you are facing harassment charges, it may be a good idea to at least meet with a seasoned defense attorney. An Alabama harassment lawyer may be able to explore your options for contesting your charges.What are the Two Types of Harassment in Alabama?
Alabama’s harassment statute is set forth in Code of Alabama §13A-11-8, which defines conduct that is considered harassment as well as conduct that constitutes the crime of harassing communications. Both harassment and harassing communications are considered class C misdemeanors.
This means that under Ala. Code §13A-5-7, those found guilty of either offense may be sentenced to a term of up to three months in a county jail or three months of hard labor. Class C misdemeanors are also punishable by a fine of up to $500 or twice the amount of loss suffered—or gain achieved—by the crime, according to Ala. Code §13A-5-12(a).How the Crime of Harassment is Defined
It is important to note that the legal definition of the crime of harassment starts by describing the intent of the person taking action. That individual must be acting with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm someone else. So, if action is taken accidentally, in jest, or without the awareness of another person, it could be argued that the conduct should be not considered harassment.
If the requisite intent is present, criminal harassment often involves subjecting another to physical contact such as striking, shoving, kicking or other forms touching. Other conduct that can constitute harassment includes making obscene or abusive gestures or comments toward another person.
The law in Alabama specifies that any threat, whether made orally or by a gesture, can be considered harassment if it would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety, and if the harassing person made the threat with the intent to carry it out. An Alabama harassment lawyer’s job is to ensure that the defendant is properly represented and given the correct information about their case.Communications (Written, Electronic, and Verbal)
With harassing communications, the element of intent is similar but not identical to traditional harassment. In order to be convicted of a violation, the individual making the communication must be doing so with the intent to harass or alarm another. Annoyance is not included in this definition.
The following types of actions may be considered harassing communications if they are made with the intent to alarm or harass:
- Messages sent by telephone or any other form of electronic communications in a way that is likely to harass or cause alarm
- Messages sent by mail or other forms of written communications in a way that is likely to harass or cause alarm
- Telephone calls placed without any intention of legitimate communication
- Telephone calls referring to or about another person with lewd or obscene language
Reach out to an Alabama harassment lawyer for more information.How an Alabama Harassment Attorney can Help
Simply put, harassment is not a crime you want on your permanent record. So, it makes sense to talk to an Alabama harassment lawyer who understands how courts handle this offense if you find yourself facing harassment charges.
An experienced criminal harassment attorney can help protect your rights, devise an effective strategy for defense, and advocate on your behalf at all stages of the proceedings in pursuit of a satisfactory outcome. Call today for a free consultation to learn what could be done in your case.