Criminal Harassment

In Massachusetts, a criminal harassment charge may arise from a variety of circumstances. Generally, criminal harassment entails intentionally targeting someone else with behavior that is meant to alarm, annoy, torment or terrorize them. Not all petty annoyances constitute harassment. The law stipulates that conduct or acts of criminal harassment may include conduct or acts by mail, or by use of a telephone or telecommunication device or electronic communication device including but not limited to, any device that transfers signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including but not limited to email, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications. Section 43A of Chapter 265 of M. G. L. provides that anyone who willfully and maliciously, engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person, which seriously alarms that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotion distress is punishable under this law. A conviction under this law shall result in the following punishments:
  • Imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 2.5 years, or
  • By a fine of not more than $1,000, or 
  • By both fine and imprisonment.
Any person who is convicted of a second or subsequent offense under this section shall be punishable by the following:
  • Imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 2.5 years, or
  • Imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 10 years.
In order to secure a conviction for the crime of Criminal Harassment, the prosecution must be able to prove four elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. First, they must be able to show that the defendant knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct, or speech, or a series of acts on at least three separate occasions, which were directed at the alleged victim. Secondly, the prosecution must show that the actions were of a kind that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress. Third, the actions must be shown to have actually caused the alleged victim to become seriously alarmed. Finally, the prosecution must show that the defendant engaged in those actions willfully and with a malicious intent.

While prosecutors are able to charge an offending individual with the crime of criminal harassment, victims of abuse or harassment may also petition the court for an Order of Protection or Restraining Order (Harassment Prevention Order) to prevent further instances of abuse. In an effort to protect their citizens from abuse and harassment, Massachusetts provides relief to victims of such activity in two different forms: an abuse prevention order and a harassment prevention order. Both of these court issued injunctions require a party to do, or to refrain from doing certain acts. A party that refuses to comply with a court, whether the order is a harassment prevention order or abuse prevention order, is subject to sanctions, including fines, probation and possible imprisonment. Abuse and harassment orders are most often used in instances of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault and stalking.

At the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, we know that some unscrupulous individuals will try to manipulate the courts, and we are able to expose the lies and inconsistencies of accusers through aggressive cross-examination in court in order to seek justice for our clients.   You need to protect yourself from false allegations of criminal harassment right away by contacting an experienced Massachusetts harassment crimes attorney.  Harassment allegations are serious charges with significant legal consequences.  Protect yourself today by seeking help from a dedicated Boston, MA criminal harassment attorney. In many cases, the victim is actually the one served with an abuse or harassment prevention order. Call Patrick J. Murphy, Esq. 24/7 to discuss the particular details of your case by dialing 617-367-0450 or by completing the contact form on our website which is emailed directly to us.  

Contact us for a Free Consultation
Contact form