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  • LaDonna Humphrey

Understanding Criminal Harassment: Definition and Steps to Take

Criminal harassment is a serious offense that can significantly impact the lives of victims. It encompasses a range of behaviors intended to intimidate, control, or instill fear in someone. This post aims to clarify what criminal harassment entails and provides guidance on how to handle it if you find yourself or someone you know in such a situation.

What is Criminal Harassment?

Criminal harassment, often referred to as stalking, involves repeated, unwanted actions that cause the victim to reasonably fear for their safety. These actions can vary widely but commonly include:

  • Following or Surveillance: The harasser follows the victim from place to place or uses electronic means to monitor their actions.

  • Unwanted Communication: Repeated phone calls, emails, texts, or social media messages, even after the victim has requested cessation.

  • Threats: Direct or indirect threats to the victim or their loved ones.

  • Showing Up Uninvited: Appearing at the victim's home, workplace, or places they frequently visit without any legitimate reason.

  • Manipulative Behavior: Actions intended to control or frighten the victim, like harming pets or damaging property.

The specifics of what constitutes criminal harassment can vary by jurisdiction, but the common element is the persistent nature of the behavior that causes fear and distress.

What to Do if You're Experiencing Criminal Harassment

  1. Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of all incidents, including dates, times, locations, and descriptions of the harassment. This documentation can be crucial in legal proceedings.

  2. Inform the Police: Early reporting can be key. Law enforcement can offer immediate protection and help in building a case against the harasser.

  3. Obtain a Restraining Order: A restraining order, or a protective order, legally bars the harasser from coming near or contacting you. The process for obtaining one varies by location, but law enforcement can guide you through it.

  4. Enhance Your Safety: Adjust your routines, secure your home and digital presence, and inform trusted friends and family about the situation so they can help watch out for any suspicious activity.

  5. Seek Support: Dealing with harassment can be emotionally draining. Professional counseling or support groups can help you cope with the stress and fear caused by harassment.

  6. Consult an Attorney: An experienced lawyer can offer advice specific to your situation and jurisdiction, helping you understand your rights and the legal avenues available to you.

Legal Consequences for the Harasser

The legal consequences for criminal harassment vary by region but can include fines, restraining orders, and imprisonment. The severity of the penalties typically depends on the harasser's actions' nature, frequency, and impact on the victim.


Criminal harassment is a significant violation of personal safety and peace of mind. Understanding what it involves and knowing the steps to take can empower victims to act swiftly and protect themselves. If you suspect you are a victim of such behavior, it's important to take immediate action and seek help from law enforcement and legal professionals to ensure your safety and bring the harasser to justice.


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