What You Need to Know About Criminal Harassment and Penalties

Criminal harassment is a serious offense that can emotionally and mentally hurt a victim. In workplaces, it usually comes from a person with authority such as a boss or supervisor, which makes things complex. Victims fear that if they report the harassment, they’ll lose their job. Often, even if they do report it, they aren’t able to prove it. So it’s the victim’s word against the word of the accused.

New Mexico is one of the few states to put criminal harassment laws in addition to stalking laws. Under statute Section 30-3A-2, harassment is defined as knowingly pursuing a pattern of conduct specifically done to alarm, terrorize, or annoy, a victim for no legal purpose. Such behavior causes the person emotional distress, and the accused could be charged with a misdemeanor.

Link Between Stalking and Harassment Charges 

Harassment and stalking charges are similar. If a person is arrested for one, they could be accused of the other as well. Criminal harassment and stalking are ruled by separate statutes. Stalking falls under New Mexico Statutes Section 30-3A-3.

According to the statute, stalking is defined as a pattern of conduct that causes a person to feel intimidated and frightened, or threatened in any way. Stalking is treated more seriously than harassment because stalkers intend to cause fear to their victim by following them.

Stalking can escalate to the more serious charge of aggravated stalking which involves the violation of a restraining order, stalking a person younger than sixteen years of age, or stalking someone with the use of a deadly weapon.

Stalking is a misdemeanor, while aggravated stalking is enhanced to a 4th-degree felony.

Sexual Harassment?

Criminal harassment may easily turn into sexual harassment which means requests for sexual favors or unwelcome sexual advances, or other verbal or physical harassment of sexual nature. Any remark on the person’s sex is considered sexual harassment. Men and women can be victims of such harassment, and the harasser can be from both sexes. It not necessarily happens from man to woman or woman to man; it can happen that the victim and the harasser are of the same sex.

Sexual harassment is illegal when it happens frequently or it’s so severe that creates an offensive or hostile work environment. Sexual harassment is considered when the employer makes their employment decisions based on the person’s sex (firing or hiring).

In most cases, a person of authority, such as a supervisor, boss, and more often than not a co-worker who is not an employee of the victim can be a harasser. It can happen from a client or a customer to the employee as well.

Does Cyberbullying Count As Criminal Harassment?

We live in an era where everything happens online.

Under Section 30-3A-2 of the New Mexico Statutes, harassment consists of knowingly pursuing a pattern of conduct that is intended to annoy, seriously alarm or terrorize another person and that serves no lawful purpose. The conduct must be such that it would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.

Under Section 30-3A-3, stalking consists of knowingly pursuing a pattern of conduct, without lawful authority, directed at a specific individual when the person intends that the pattern of conduct would place the individual in reasonable apprehension of death, bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint of the individual or another individual.

Stalking can be both a misdemeanor offense and a felony offense depending on the circumstances. For example, stalking can amount to the more serious charge of aggravated stalking when committed in violation of a restraining order or when the victim is less than sixteen years of age.

For a first offense, stalking is a misdemeanor, while subsequent convictions for stalking or a conviction for aggravated stalking is a 4th-degree felony.

Our team at FBD Law is here to help you and review your case. Contact our office.

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