Harassment is a broad term to include criminal acts like stalking and trespass. Criminal harassment isn’t the same as civil harassment such as workplace harassment. Criminal harassment involves intentionally targeting someone by using behavior meant to annoy, alarm, terrorize, or torment them. The acts include threats to the victim and/or their family’s safety. Overall, state laws can vary regarding criminal harassment. The State of Washington has its own criminal harassment statute.

What is the Statute in Washington State Regarding Harassment?

In Washington, harassment constitutes knowingly:

  • Causing physical damage to another person’s property;
  • Causing bodily injury to a person;
  • Maliciously doing another criminal act to cause substantial harm to the person;
  • Confining someone against their will; or
  • Placing a person in reasonable fear with words or conduct that the victim believes to be genuine and imminent.

What’s the Punishment for Harassment in Washington State?

The State can charge a defendant with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the defendant’s criminal record. If the defendant was previously convicted of harassment or committed harassment in violation of a restraining order, you can be charged with a class C felony. The defendant can face up to 43 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

If the defendant has no previous conviction of harassment and the current charge was not in violation of a restraining order, then the defendant can face up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Will I Have to Give a DNA Sample?

Yes. If convicted of harassment, the court may require the defendant to give a DNA sample for the State’s DNA identification system.

Should I Speak with a Lawyer about My Harassment Charge?

Yes. It’s important to be proactive in resolving your criminal charge by talking to a Washington criminal lawyer about your case.