Harassment is a word many people use to identify a person who is annoying or obnoxious. However, there are serious implications for people who are charged and convicted of harassment in Utah. As you will learn throughout this article, harassment can take different forms, each with its set of penalties. You may wonder whether you can go to jail for “mere harassment.” Many people think this offense cannot lead to devastating penalties, such as those you can face for a felony. However, a conviction for harassment can be just as bad. Our Salt Lake City, UT criminal defense attorneys from Overson Law, PLLC, invite you to keep reading as we discuss whether you can go to jail for harassment in Utah.
Will I Go to Jail for Harassment in Utah?
Being charged with harassment in Utah can lead to potentially devastating consequences. However, before discussing the penalties associated with harassment, it is essential to understand what harassment is under Utah law. According to Utah Code § 76-5-106, harassment involves the intent of frightening or harass another person by making a written or recorded threat to commit any violent felony. For example, a person can be charged with harassment if they leave a note on another person’s car window stating, “I will stab you if you come back.”
Another example of harassment can be a voicemail saying, “I will beat you to death,” or any other comment expressing the intent to hurt or cause harm. The most important aspect to remember from Utah Code § 76-5-106 is intent, which involves more than just mere negligence or a random commentary.
Nevertheless, engaging in harassment can lead to very serious consequences if convicted. Typically, harassment is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. A criminal conviction for this type of crime can lead to jail time and steep fines in addition to a permanent criminal record.
Can I Go to Jail for Electronic Communication Harassment in Utah?
Over the past few years, electronic communication harassment has picked significant steam. This is particularly true with services such as social media, text messaging, and e-mail services. Electronic communication harassment can be found under Utah Code § 76-9-201. According to this statute, a person can be charged with electronic communication harassment if they make repeated, unwanted, and threatening communications through an electronic medium against another recipient.
Additionally, electronic communication harassment may also involve continuous communications to insult, taunt, and challenge the recipient to provoke a violent or disorderly response. Additionally, it can also include situations where the sender tries to overload another person’s electronic system through excessive messaging.
Perhaps the most known type of electronic communication harassment today can be seen in social media. There have been numerous cases where a sender posts another person’s personal information on a public online forum with the intention to abuse, threaten or abuse the recipient without their permission.
If you are charged with electronic communication harassment and get convicted, you may face jail time and criminal fines. It is essential to hire a Utah criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights and guide you through the criminal process.
What Are the Criminal Penalties for Harassment in Utah?
As you may know, Utah divides crimes into misdemeanors and felonies. In Utah, misdemeanors are classified as A, B, and C. Generally, these offenses are less severe than their felony counterpart. However, it is essential to understand that a criminal conviction for a misdemeanor can still lead to significant consequences. Harassment is typically classified as a Class B misdemeanor. A criminal conviction for this offense can lead to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. In addition to these penalties, you will get a criminal record. This can present different challenges, even years after your conviction.
However, this is not the only potential criminal consequence you can face. Depending on your specific case, your charges can be upgraded from a Class B to a Class A misdemeanor. This type of misdemeanor is the most serious and carries more severe consequences. If you are convicted of a Class A misdemeanor in Utah, you can face up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
Moreover, suppose you have already been convicted for harassment against a minor. In that case, your criminal penalties can be upgraded to a third-degree felony – one of the most serious charges you can face. If convicted, you can face up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
How to Defend Against Harassment Charges in Utah
If you have been charged with harassment in Utah, the first thing you need to do is to hire an experienced Ogden, UT criminal defense lawyer. With your lawyer’s assistance, you can fight aggressively and strategically against your charges. The statute’s language pertaining to harassment is broad, and a person could face harassment charges for a number of reasons. However, before arriving to any conclusions regarding harassment, the prosecution must prove all the elements of you our alleged offense.
An important thing to remember is that, in our criminal justice system, you are innocent until proven guilty. This means that the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime for which you are being accused. If the prosecution cannot provide the court with evidence showing elements such as intent, you cannot be convicted of harassment.
Every harassment case is different and should be approached according to its specific circumstances. It is always in your best interest to consult with your Orem, UT criminal defense attorney. With your lawyer’s assistance, you can fight against your charges and protect your freedom.
Utah Criminal Defense Attorney Handling Harassment Cases
If you or a loved one was charged with harassment in Utah, there is no time to waste. It is always best to hire an experienced Salt Lake City, UT criminal defense attorney as soon as you are charged with harassment. As we previously discussed, a criminal conviction for this type of offense can lead to life-altering consequences. Thus, it is essential to hire an attorney who can provide you with the quality legal representation you deserve. To learn more about our legal services in a free, confidential consultation, call Overson Law, PLLC today at (801) 758-2287.