Harassment Law – Pennsylvania

 

HARASSMENT – 18 P.S. § 2709(a)

A person commits the crime of harassment when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another, the person:

  • strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects the other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same;
  • follows the other person in or about a public place or places;
  • engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which serve no legitimate purpose;
  • communicates to or about such other person any lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures;
  • communicates repeatedly in an anonymous manner;
  • communicates repeatedly at extremely inconvenient hours; or
  • communicates repeatedly in a manner other than those specified above.

The first three of the aforementioned acts will constitute a summary offense. The last four acts will constitute a misdemeanor of the third degree.

KEY TERMS

“Communicate” means to conveys a message without intent of legitimate communication or address by oral, nonverbal, written or electronic means, including telephone, electronic mail, Internet, facsimile, telex, wireless communication or similar transmission.

“Course of conduct” means a pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of conduct. This term includes lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings, caricatures, or actions, either in person or anonymously. Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of conduct.

CYBER HARASSMENT OF A CHILD – 18 P.S. § 2709(a.1)

A person commits the crime of cyber harassment of a child if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm, the person engages in a continuing course of conduct of making any of the following by electronic means directly to a child or by publication through an electronic social media device:

  • seriously disparaging statement or opinion about the child’s physical characteristics, sexuality, sexual activity of mental or physical health or condition; or
  • threat to inflict harm

If a juvenile is charged with violating this statute, the Court shall give first consideration to referring the juvenile to a diversionary program. As part of this program, the Court may order the juvenile to participate in an educational program which includes the legal and non-legal consequences of cyber harassment. If the juvenile successfully completes the diversionary program, the juvenile’s records shall be expunged.

Commission of Cyber Harassment of a Child shall constitute a misdemeanor of the third degree.

VENUE

An offense of harassment may be deemed to have been committed at either the place at which the communication or communications were made or at the place where the communication or communications were received. Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of conduct. An offense of Cyber Harassment of a Child may be deemed to have been committed at the place where the child who is the subject of the communication resides.

HARASSMENT LAWYER – THE MARTIN LAW FIRM, P.C.

Anyone charged with the crime of Harassment should contact an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer. To learn more about your rights, contact The Martin Law Firm today at 215-687-4053.