Abuse & Harassment
In North Carolina, every resident is assured the right to live freely and without abuse and harassment. Consequently, it is illegal in North Carolina to commit stalking and cyberstalking, communicate threats to others, bully others, or make harassing phone calls. There’s a myriad of North Carolina statutes covering the many forms that abuse and harassment can take, such as:
- 14-196.3 for Cyberstalking
- 14-277.3A for Stalking
- 14-277.1 for Communicating Threats
- 14-196 for using profane, indecent or threatening language to any person over telephone; annoying or harassing by repeated telephoning or making false statements over telephone
- 14-458.1 for Cyberbullying
- 115C-407.15 for Bullying and Harassing behavior
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the abuse and harassment, as well as intention and unintended consequences, most of the crimes can elicit a Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor, which means that, if convicted, you could end up in jail, pay high fines, and create or add to a criminal record. For these reasons, among others, you need to call an experienced abuse and harassment attorney immediately after you’ve been charged with these crimes.
Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking as Harassment
With the rise of Internet communications across all demographics throughout Raleigh and Wake County, and due to the anonymity of the Internet, cyberbullying and cyberstalking are two forms of harassment that have greatly increased in frequency over the past couple of years. Moreover, due to the very nature of the Internet, the lines between harassment, “trolling,” being insensitive, and other nuances have certainly blurred.
In short, cyberstalking and cyberbullying are often charged as a Class 2 misdemeanors punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 60 days. The main characteristics of cyberbullying and cyberstalking, as well as other forms of harassment, generally include the presence of threatening words and/or actions. This can include direct threats, excessive bullying, and even extortion.
Defenses to Harassment Charges
In abuse and harassment charges, the prosecution only needs prove an intent to cause physical or psychological harm, regardless of unintended consequences. As such, actions that unintentionally cause distress aren’t often considered harassment. For instance, if you play music too loud, thinking that the sound won’t carry to the neighbor’s house, you probably are not harassing the neighbor. On the other hand, if you repeatedly blast music to intentionally cause distress in the neighbor, then you may be charged with harassment.
There are some common defenses to harassment charges, such as:
- Free speech: a collection agency can, in the routine of his/her business, can make multiple calls asking for a viable debt. A collection agency cannot make threats over the phone for the unpaid debt.
- Unintended consequences: the alleged harassment was never intended to be harassment, and the individual charged with the crime had no intent on causing distress.
- Insensitivity: the court has an obligation to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, whether the alleged actions were insensitive or harassment.
Contact Dewey P. Brinkley Today For a Leading Criminal Defense
If you’ve been charged with abuse or harassment, you could be facing jail, substantial fines, and other potential penalties. As a misdemeanor, this conviction could also wreak havoc on your ability to get a job, apply for university, apply for housing, and others. For a free consultation with Raleigh’s leading abuse and harassment attorney, contact Dewey P. Brinkley today at 919-832-0307.