What is the legal definition of harassment?
Harassment has long been misunderstood and often goes unspoken. It can be challenging to define the term because it can mean different things to different people. Harassment is a serious offense with potential long-term repercussions for both the victim and the offender. It includes any unwanted behavior that causes someone to feel uneasy or threatened and can take many forms.
The laws governing harassment in Nevada are complicated. Still, De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers, a leading criminal and immigration law firm, has the knowledge and experience to guide you through this challenging situation. Below, we cover everything you need to know about harassment in Nevada, including the definition, penalties, defense strategies, and related offenses.
What Is the Legal Definition of Harassment in Nevada?
According to Nevada Revised Statutes NRS 200.571, “harassment” is when someone unlawfully threatens you with words or engages in any of the following behaviors, and you have a reasonable fear that the threat will come to pass:
- Threatening to cause you or any other person bodily injury in the future.
- Threatening to cause physical damage to your property or another person’s property.
- Threatening to cause your or another person’s physical confinement or restraint.
- Threatening to do any act intended to cause significant harm to you or another person’s physical or mental health or safety.
Threats do not have to be made with the intention of hurting the recipient or their property, whether they’re verbal or physical. The threat may be directed at a third party, such as a relative, or their property, such as their home.
To be found guilty of harassment in Nevada, you must have knowingly and intentionally threatened to actually harm another person, and the other party had to have been made to reasonably fear that the threat would come true.
What Are the Penalties for Being Charged With Harassment?
If you’re found guilty of harassment, your penalties depend on whether it’s your first offense or if a court has previously found you guilty of harassment. If it’s your first offense, you’ll face a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
For any subsequent offense, you’ll be charged with a gross misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 364 days, by a fine of not more than $2,000, or both.
If you threaten the victim with death or substantial bodily harm, prosecutors may charge the harassment as a felony classified as a Category B felony. The punishment is two to 15 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000. If you harass someone by text message or via the internet, you may be charged with a Category C felony and face up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
Regardless of your charge, the victim may pursue any other legal remedy, such as a personal injury claim.
How Do You Defend Against a Harassment Charge?
In Nevada, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you threatened to harm someone intentionally and knowingly, and that person reasonably believed you would carry out your threat. Although every case is unique, an experienced attorney typically considers a few common defenses to a harassment charge. The following are some defenses your attorney may raise:
- You were acting in self-defense.
- The allegations were fabricated, or the “victim” lied about what you said or did.
- The victim’s fear was not reasonable.
- Your behavior and statements did not rise to the level of harassment or were not threatening.
- You acted under lawful authority — for example, as a security guard, peace officer, or police officer.
- The witness or victim is not credible.
- It was a case of mistaken identity, and you were not the person who committed the harassment.
- The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly protect your actions or statements.
No matter what the best course of action in your case may be, defending against a harassment charge requires competent legal counsel. It’s best if you never attempt to deal with a prosecutor on your own. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer has the specialized abilities, expertise, and skills to defend your case successfully.
Can Your Records Be Sealed?
Yes. Depending on the charge, records of your harassment conviction may be sealed. Record sealing for misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor harassment offenses is permitted two years after release from custody, a suspended sentence, or the end of parole/probation, whichever is latest.
Category B felony harassment records can be sealed five years after being released from custody or when you’re released from parole/probation, whichever is the latest.
If your harassment charge is dismissed, your records can be sealed immediately.
Any There Any Related Offenses?
There are several offenses related to harassment in Nevada. They are:
Stalking and Aggravated Stalking
Under NRS 200.575, stalking is a willful or malicious course of action that targets a victim, and that could reasonably be expected to terrorize, frighten, intimidate, harass, or make a person fearful for their safety or the safety of a family member or household member. Aggravated stalking involves stalking and making threats of death or serious bodily harm with the intent of instilling fear in the victim.
Mail and Online Harassment
This crime, also known as cyberstalking, entails sending obscene or threatening messages via text, email, or social media. Making terrorist threats is also included in this category.
This primarily happens in the workplace when a person demands a sexual favor from another person or engages in sexual intimidation or bullying of that person. Peeping, indecent exposure, and gross lewdness are a few examples of sexual harassment.
If you’re facing harassment or other criminal charges, contact the team at De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers. We have skilled criminal defense lawyers with over 12 decades of combined experience ready to represent you. Call 702-840-4781 or complete our online contact form to discuss your case today.
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