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What Is Aggravated Harassment?

Unwanted, repeated phone calls may be considered a form of harassment.
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  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2014
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Harassment is a criminal offense that involves unwelcome actions, which may be intentional or unintentional, performed by one person toward another person. Harassment makes the receiving person feel uncomfortable, irritated, or fearful for his or her safety. Aggravated harassment is a broad legal term that refers to intentional actions designated to intimidate or terrorize another person. The exact legal definition may vary depending on the state, region, or country the action occurs in; however, most jurisdictions tend to categorize the crime into either first or second degrees according to the severity. The punishment will depend on whether the charges are considered first or second degree.

The less severe form of aggravated harassment is second degree. This may include contacting another person through repeated letters, telephone, or other electronic means, even after the victim has asked the perpetrator to stop. The perpetrator will usually act with the intent to make the victim feel uncomfortable or unsafe. It may also include certain physical contact, such shoving or striking, or just the threat of inflicting physical contact. A second degree form of the crime is generally a misdemeanor or more minor crime.

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First degree aggravated harassment is considered the more severe category of the criminal action. It typically involves the same type of behaviors as the second degree category, but may be labeled as first degree if it the person being charged has already been convicted of the second degree form in the past. Some jurisdictions may be more likely to charge a person with first degree if his or her threats or actions were based on the victim’s religion, race, gender, age, or sexual orientation. First degree aggravated harassment is usually punished as a felony or more serious crime.

The punishment for aggravated harassment can vary widely depending on different factors. One of the main factors in determining sentencing is the state, region, or country the alleged actions occurred in. Different areas typically have their own sentencing laws for the crime and they can differ even from other nearby areas. Some areas may also be stricter in sentencing on different factors, such as if physical force was involved or if the victim was targeted due to his or her beliefs, lifestyle choices, race, age, or other discriminatory factors. Another key factor in determining sentencing is the severity of the crime and whether it is first or second degree, as well as if it is a repeated offense.

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solei93
Post 13

My ex-boyfriend is very insecure and has accused me of cheating plenty of times. This time, things went a little too far. In the past, I made a sex tape for him because we were that deep into the relationship and I thought we were really meant to be together.

Anyway, he thought I was cheating and as revenge he sent the video to two male friends of mine and threatened to post it all over if I didn't admit to the accusations. He's also selling the video to make money off it. Is this aggravated harassment?

anon348410
Post 12

I was contacted first by a now former friend willingly and engaged in mutual conversation via text message.

Personal situations were discussed regarding why the the person was terminated from the title know as "Street Crew", a title given to the plaintiff by mutual friends who are professional wrestlers (athletes) for a company operating in New Jersey. The individual was clearly upset over losing this title. What also was discussed was the treatment of which the person showed to myself after the death of a immediate family member at a Pay Per View event. Knowing my state of mind, the person showed disrespect, which was also a factor of the the individual being terminated. During the conversations, the individual repeatedly made cell phone call attempts. Not once did I request a cell phone conversation or make an attempt.

Mutual parties (me and my former friend) had an argument over personal situations (relationship drama) which was resolved peacefully later on by both parties, then we engaged in mutual civil conversation regarding our mutual friends.

Our conversation continued mutually until a confrontation over a situation known as "friend zone". I then showed the person proof of the confrontation after the individual's denial. Then, after showing proof, the person acknowledged the situation in my favor then asked to be left alone which I acknowledged.

There were no previous or repeated requests to refuse contact given by the person given prior to proof being shown and acknowledgement on my part to no longer engage in contact was noted and accepted. Now I'm being charged with second degree aggravated harassment. What should I do?

anon331792
Post 11

My ex-husband keeps trying to get information about me from my friends. They won't give him what he wants, which is my address and phone number. There are no children involved or any other reason that we need to be connected in any way.

He has been told by me and others that I don't want to have any communication with him. He just wants me to know that he's not going to leave me alone. This makes me very uncomfortable, thinking that he might show up on my doorstep sometime. I also know that he has a hand gun that he kept secret from me for the 31 years that we were married. Can I do anything legally to stop him from harassing me emotionally?

hkuhn
Post 10

I am just wondering how much more punishment will I have to endure until I end up in a hospital or maybe just do the worst to myself because of someone's aggravated harassment! It can possibly be someone who lives near me, or someone who has worked with me.

I believe that someone who does not know you would hurt me, but the way it plays out, it is someone who knows me! Those persons responsible will deny they know me, but someone who creates aggravated harassment always knows the person they are harassing. They don't have to know me that well. They maybe have seen me somewhere, know me from work, know me just from meeting me once. It does not matter. The point is someone is hurting me and I don't know why. I have never hurt anyone ever in my life, so I don't know what the deal is with this person.

hkuhn
Post 9

I am a single mom and I live with my two kids and I have a brain injury. What has been happening to me has been going on with my car and myself. It has been a nightmare for me dealing with someone creating aggravated harassment.

The following things have happened and just happened: my tires have been slashed several times, someone tampered with my car heating up, and keyed my windshield. People have been saying strange things to me. I've just been taking a walk and men have stalked me. People have been tampering with my mail and someone threw a dead rat with its head crushed and the American flag next to it into my backyard. People have been saying things and giving me dirty looks in public.

My kids are saying things like I have been punished enough after my car overheated for no known reason. This is too much for me because of my brain injury. I have high tension, stress, anxiety, and I get to a point where I just feel like I should commit myself to a hospital.

Someone who knows me that is trying to break me. I have contacted the police department and I feel that they are never going to find the person who is doing this to me. I feel that he is a pro in harassing someone and he knows me. He knows people who will do what he wants them to do.

Linda7
Post 8

My daughter is good friends with a young man who recently broke up with his girlfriend. When the young man went to retrieve his belongings from his ex girlfriend's house, the ex girlfriend's mother was there, speaking loudly for him to hear all the terrible things she thinks of him for having broken up with her daughter.

Now, while he's at work, this woman is texting him with slanderous accusations that he cheated on her daughter with my daughter, who is married and has only been a fried with this young man. This young man and my daughter are distraught by this woman's baseless accusations. Do her actions constitute harassment both to this young man and to my daughter? What can be done about stopping her?

Penzance356
Post 7

I work as a school counsellor and it saddens me to think that in twenty years the bullying issue hasn't been overcome. In fact, these days I think it may be worse than ever because there are so many ways to inflict misery on an unpopular teenager in school.

It is possible to bring harassment in the 2nd degree charges against people guilty of cyber bullying, although it isn't always easy for those affected to make use of this legal route.

My school have designed a charter which clearly outlines the behavior considerd unacceptable, and this covers all manner of technological intimidation, such as cell phones and social networking sites.

oscar23
Post 6

You know, I have often wondered if I was harassed or just plain blackmailed by a college professor once. It could actually be that the lines blurred a little bit.

I was a freshman going into an honors system at a private liberal arts college. I was also a member of the performing arts department, and taking max hours. I worked a part time job at our local coffee house and part time work study as a seamstress for our costume department. Needless to say, this was a lot to throw at a freshman going to school on full scholarship.

You know what, though? I did fine in all of my classes from the get go except for one. This was an honors class, and the professor knew who was on scholarship and who wasn’t. Needless to say, even then tuition was getting close to twenty thousand dollars a year. He knew we needed our scholarships.

I was a lead in one of our shows, and played the part of a wealthy socialite woman who was far less than a lady. This professor saw the show, and the next day pulled me to the side.

He told me that I could either do great in his class or I could leave with bad marks on my transcripts for the rest of my life. I, being totally naive, asked what he was talking about.

He remarked that he like the heels I wore in the show and if I would wear those to his office, and only those, he would be happy to see that my transcript remained pristine.

I was totally shocked, but had the presence of mind to tell the man where to stuff his stilettos.

The two classes I had with him were the only two classes I made less than a B in throughout my entire college career, and they were enough to keep me from graduating with honors. But I left with my integrity intact.

Others in my class weren’t quite so lucky when they crossed that stage. I've often wondered if this was in fact second degree harassment, but never pursued it.

NathanG
Post 5

@Moldova - I think that many male workers are aware of the dangers of harassment in the second degree, so they try to be professional-most of them anyway. I think, however, we should understand that this is a two way street and people should recognize that even well-intentioned expressions of friendly affection can be misconstrued.

I worked at a place once where a female coworker liked to touch and embrace to show her appreciation for her coworkers. Usually it would just be mild, not a deep embrace. I was the target of some of that touching, and I had to tell her gently to stop.

She meant nothing ill by it, I know; she was a married lady and it just so happened that she was a very affectionate person. But she stopped, and I think picked up on some non-verbal cues from other coworkers as well.

live2shop
Post 4

Aggravated harassment is particularly upsetting when it is committed against someone because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, age or gender.

I seems that it is a more serious form of bullying that young kids and teenagers engage in. Some just outgrow the bullying behavior, while for others, it just escalates into harassment.

Something has to be done about bullying. It's become a lot easier to do and can be more serious when the internet is used.

Moldova
Post 3

@Cafe41 -I agree and I think that a lot of companies are becoming more aware of harassment laws and conducting sensitivity training for their employees so that they understand what constitutes harassment.

In fact, at my husband’s company the CEO was fired for sexual harassment. The company had to pay a huge settlement to two female employees, but they did not press any criminal charges.

He was stalking them and calling them at home during nonworking hours and the two women got together and filed a lawsuit against the company because on top of the harassment they also were wrongfully terminated.

cafe41
Post 2

@Sunny27 - Wow, how tragic.I know that some people will continue to break harassment laws until something terrible happens because it is often hard to prove the harassment is taking place and you really have to keep detailed records in case there ever is a criminal case.

A lot of police officers really have their hands tied until the person actually does something and often it is too late like in this young girl’s story. We really should create more awareness of domestic violence and offer warning signs that allow young people an opportunity to realize when a relationship is not healthy.

I think that they should have these types of courses in high school under health education because that is usually where these types of relationships begin.

Sunny27
Post 1

I just wanted to say that any time someone is harassing someone else they really have to take action immediately because the actions of the perpetrator can escalate. Years ago when I worked in a department store as a manager, I had an employee that was being stalked by her ex boyfriend.

He really could not take no for an answer and continually pursed her. She filed for a restraining order against him which she had in place, but this was not enough. The ex boyfriend broke into her house and murdered her. It so said because this was a girl that was getting ready to go away for college.

If she had filed criminal charges against him for aggravated stalking or aggravated harassment charges he would have landed in jail and she may have been alive today. It was such a shame because this girl was only nineteen.

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