Criminal and Civil Harassment  

Harassment refers to a wide variety of behaviors that are subject to both criminal punishments such as going to jail, as well as punishments set forth in civil courts. While many of them are similar in many ways, each state has its own unique set of criminal and civil laws forbidding the many different forms of harassment there are.

The term harassment is used quite differently in the criminal context compared to the civil context, such as when it is used in workplace discrimination claims and lawsuits. Both federal and state laws ban discrimination against employees in the workplace and in situations when they are applying for housing.

Criminal harassment can and does happen at work but when someone is discriminated against because of their ethnicity, religion, language, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or for other reasons, they may be able to sue for restitution in a civil claim based on harassment. An example of workplace discrimination and harassment is if someone is a religion that no one else at work is a part of and they get harassed by their co-workers and/or superiors, it may be the basis for a civil lawsuit. An example of the kind of discrimination in housing that may warrant a civil lawsuit is when a person or family that is of a different ethnic background compared to the majority of the people in an apartment or condominium complex, that has good credit, recommendations, employment, etc., is denied a unit, if it can be proven that this was because of discrimination, it may warrant a civil lawsuit.

Even though many states define criminal harassment in similar terms, each state has its own unique set of criminal laws pertaining to harassment. If you are interested in a specific state’s laws on harassment, it is important to find out what they are. In general though, many states define it along the lines of intentionally targeting someone else with behavior that is meant to alarm, annoy, torment or terrorize them. If one or more people are causing a credible threat to an individual, their family, or another group they identify with’s safety, there is a good chance that a state may consider it criminal harassment.

There are many different ways a person can get criminally harassed including by someone coming in close proximity to a person, their home and/or their work, and through email, telephone, texts, and other forms of communication.

States often take different levels of harassment into account.

There are many annoying behaviors that some people may feel harassed by though, that are not defined as harassment under criminal code.

If you need to know about whether or not you can go to jail for harassment, it is important that you get legal advice from a lawyer who is licensed to practice criminal law in the state where the incident in question occurred or is currently occurring.

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