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Harassment & Stalking

Lehigh Valley Criminal Defense Attorneys

Harassment Defense Attorneys in Easton Pennsylvania, Serving Lehigh & Northampton County

Our Harassment Defense Attorneys Represent Defendants in Allentown, Bethlehem & Easton and throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley

Our Criminal Defense Attorneys have represented numerous individuals charged with Harassment in Easton, Allentown, Bethlehem & the Greater Lehigh Valley. We have successfully had Lehigh & Northampton County Harassment charges dismissed or downgraded.

In Pennsylvania, Harassment may be graded as either a summary offense or a 3rd degree misdemeanor and can carry a sentence of up to one year in jail. Stalking can be graded as a misdemeanor of the 1st degree or a 3rd degree felony and can carry a sentence of up to 7 years prison.

Many things may constitute harassment but the important part is that the government must prove an intent to harass, annoy or alarm the other person. In many instances of harassment the state must show that a defendant engaged in a course a conduct rather than a single mistake and that their actions had no legitimate purpose.

Likewise stalking can be charged based upon a myriad of acts but the government must again prove that the action(s) were a course of conduct rather than a mere isolated act. When prosecuting a stalking charge the government must also prove the individual had the intent to put another in fear of bodily injury or to cause them substantial emotional distress.

Our Criminal Defense Attorneys in Easton, Pennsylvania are here to help.  Call now if you, or a loved one, are facing Harassment charges.

Only

Local Criminal Defense Law Office to subpoena a sitting Judge in a criminal case.

First

Law Office to achieve release on bail for a client incarcerated on a Northampton County Detainer

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Local Law Firm to have a Prosecutor assert fifth amendment when questioned under oath in our case.

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Law Firm to utilize independent blood test results in a Northampton County DUI case to result in a dismissal of charges.

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Law Firm to achieve the emergency release of Northampton County inmates during the COVID-19 Crisis pro bono & first overall.

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Law Firm to successfully challenge the Northampton County ARD Programs' lack of individualized hearings.

Our Approach to Defending Harassment Charges in the Lehigh Valley

Early Intervention & Aggressive Harassment Defense

Early Retention of a Lehigh Valley Criminal Defense Attorney is the Best Defense to Criminal Charges in Easton, Allentown & Bethlehem

When at all possible we want to be involved in a Lehigh or Northampton County Aggravated Assault case as early as possible.  As time passes, memories fade or distort and witnesses may become harder and harder to track down.  Security camera footage in Allentown, Bethlehem or Easton may be overwritten and cell phone records may be destroyed.  The earlier we are contacted, the better outcome we can achieve.  When at all possible, we prefer to be involved in an Aggravated Assault case, prior to the Preliminary Hearing in order to maximize our ability to defend against the Aggravated Assault charges.

Harassment Law in Easton, Pennsylvania

Below you can find the Pennsylvania Harassment Statute and some precedent favorable to the Defense of Aggravated Assault Charges

Harassment - 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709

Harassment – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709
(a) Offense defined.–A person commits the crime of
harassment when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another,
the person:
(1) strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects the
other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to
do the same;
(2) follows the other person in or about a public place
or places;
(3) engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits
acts which serve no legitimate purpose;
(4) communicates to or about such other person any lewd,
lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings
or caricatures;
(5) communicates repeatedly in an anonymous manner;
(6) communicates repeatedly at extremely inconvenient
hours; or
(7) communicates repeatedly in a manner other than
specified in paragraphs (4), (5) and (6).
(b) Stalking.–(Deleted by amendment).
(b.1) Venue.–
(1) An offense committed under this section 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.
(2) 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.
(c) Grading.–
(1) An offense under subsection (a)(1), (2) or (3) shall
constitute a summary offense.
(2) (i) An offense under subsection (a)(4), (5), (6) or
(7) shall constitute a misdemeanor of the third degree.
(ii) (Deleted by amendment).
(d) False reports.–A person who knowingly gives false
information to any law enforcement officer with the intent to
implicate another under this section commits an offense under
section 4906 (relating to false reports to law enforcement
authorities).
(e) Application of section.–This section shall not apply to
conduct by a party to a labor dispute as defined in the act of
June 2, 1937 (P.L.1198, No.308), known as the Labor Anti-
Injunction Act, or to any constitutionally protected activity.
(e.1) Course of conduct.–(Deleted by amendment).
(f) Definitions.–As used in this section, the following
words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this
subsection:
“Communicates.” 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.” A pattern of actions composed of more
than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a
continuity of conduct. 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.

Stalking Law – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709.1
(a) Offense defined.–A person commits the crime of stalking
when the person either:
(1) engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits
acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority, under circumstances which demonstrate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person; or
(2) engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly communicates to another person under circumstances which demonstrate or communicate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person.
(b) Venue.–
(1) An offense committed under this section 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.
(2) 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.
(c) Grading.–
(1) Except as otherwise provided for in paragraph (2), a first offense under this section shall constitute a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(2) A second or subsequent offense under this section or a first offense under subsection (a) if the person has been previously convicted of a crime of violence involving the same victim, family or household member, including, but not limited to, a violation of section 2701 (relating to simple assault), 2702 (relating to aggravated assault), 2705 (relating to recklessly endangering another person), 2901 (relating to kidnapping), 3121 (relating to rape) or 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse), an order issued under section 4954 (relating to protective orders) or an order issued under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108 (relating to relief) shall constitute a felony of the third degree.
(d) False reports.–
A person who knowingly gives false information to any law enforcement officer with the intent to implicate another under this section commits an offense under section 4906 (relating to false reports to law enforcement authorities).
(e) Application of section.–
This section shall not apply to conduct by a party to a labor dispute as defined in the act of June 2, 1937 (P.L.1198, No.308), known as the Labor Anti-Injunction Act, or to any constitutionally protected activity.
(f) Definitions.–
As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
“Communicates.” To convey 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.” A pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of conduct. The 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.
“Emotional distress.” A temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.
“Family or household member.” Spouses or persons who have been spouses, persons living as spouses or who lived as spouses, parents and children, other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, current or former sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood.

Relevant Harrassment Case Law

A court should be extremely reluctant to infer criminal intent to harass solely from filing complaints with appropriate government agencies and the making of telephone calls during regular office hours, lest citizen’s constitutional freedoms be chilled. Com v. Bender, 248 Pa. Super. 504, 375 A.2d 354 (1977).

Course of Conduct and Harassment & Stalking
A single act does not constitute a course of conduct requisite for harassment charges. Comm. v. Schnabel, 236 Pa. Super. 280, 344 A.2d 896 (1975).

Course of conduct harassment requires that the government prove that the actions complained of had no legitimate purpose whereas stalking does not. Comm. v. Urrutia, 439 Pa. Super. 227, 653 A.2d 706 (1995).

Mere Argument and Harassment & Stalking
A mere argument without physical threat is not sufficient to support charges of harassment. Comm. v. Burton, 299 Pa. Super 147, 445 A.2d 191 (1982).

Criminal Court Process In Lehigh & Northampton County

A brief explanation of the different court hearings in Lehigh & Northampton County

FIling of Charges

A criminal case begins with the filing of the charging paperwork in the District Court. The District Court serves as the gatekeeper for the Court or Common Pleas and generally does not decide guilt or innocence nor does it impose sentences in Misdemeanor and Felony cases.

If the charges are felonies, M1 charges, domestic violence related misdemeanors or misdemeanors observed by a law enforcement officer, the Magisterial District Judge (MDJ) will issue an arrest warrant. For all other charges the MDJ will merely mail a summons to appear for a preliminary hearing or summary trial.

Preliminary Arraignment

The Preliminary Arraignment is the first court date a defendant must attend. At the preliminary Arraignment the MDJ will set bail. If an arrest warrant has issued, this will occur prior to the preliminary hearing. If a preliminary hearing was scheduled via summons, the Preliminary Arraignment will occur simultaneous to the Preliminary Hearing.

Preliminary Hearing

Preliminary Hearings are the first opportunity for the Defense to test the evidence the Commonwealth plans to bring against them. While the burden the Commonwealth must meet at this level is very low, it is a critical stage of the defense because it allows for the opportunity to lay the strategic groundwork that may make or break a defense in the upper courts. You should never waive a preliminary hearing without an attorney.

Formal Arraignment

Formal Arraignment is the first court appearance in the Court of Common Pleas. The purpose of the Formal Arraignment is to inform defendants of certain rights they have and deadlines in their case. If negotiations have led to a favorable plea agreement in your case, a plea may be entered at this court date

Pre-Trial Motions & Hearings

Depending on the individual case, any of the following types of court hearings may occur after preliminary arraignment but before a trial:

• Diversionary Program Hearing – Diversionary Programs allow defendants a path through the criminal justice system that does not risk the chance of conviction. First time offenders may be eligible for the ARD program. Other defendant’s may be eligible for Mental Health Court regardless of whether they have prior convictions.

• Habeas Corpus Hearing – A Habeas Corpus hearing, like a preliminary hearing, may be held to contest the sufficiency of the Commonwealth’s evidence prior to a trial.

• Suppression Hearing – A suppression hearing may be held to have evidence illegally obtained by the police ruled inadmissible at trial.

• Guilty Plea – If the Commonwealth and the defendant agree upon the terms of a guilty plea, a plea may occur at any time throughout the criminal court process

Criminal Trial

In most criminal trials, cases proceed in front of a jury. However, sometimes it may be best to opt for a non-jury trial. Non-jury trials are most often used when the nature of the crime is one that risks a jury finding someone guilty based upon emotion rather than facts.

If the case precedes as a jury trial the judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney will question potential jurors. Each side, without any justification, can eliminate a certain number of jurors. Another number of potential jurors can be eliminated based on a list of legal justifications. Eventually, through this process, a jury is reached and seated for trial.

After a jury is chosen, the trial begins with opening statements.

Because the government has the burden of proof, the prosecutor is allowed to make his opening statement first. The defense will then have the option of making an opening statement or waiting until after the prosecution rests its case.

Defense lawyers usually opt to deliver opening statements immediately after the prosecution so that jurors can examine the government’s evidence under the defense’s theory of the case.

After the opening statement(s), each side has the opportunity to present its case.

The prosecution must present its case first. During this time the government presents evidence and elicits testimony from its witnesses. The defense is entitled to cross-examine each witness that the government calls. The prosecution must establish each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

When the prosecution rests, the defense presents evidence to the jury. If the prosecution’s case is weak, the defense may argue to have the case dismissed at this point. If the motion is denied the defense will go forwards with its case.

After the prosecution and criminal defense lawyer have rested their case, each side will have the opportunity to make a closing argument. The defense lawyer delivers the first argument and the prosecution follows him or her.

The defendant may testify as a witness in his or her defense. However, doing so opens the door for the prosecution to attempt to discredit the witness and in many cases allows the prosecution to bring up harmful information from the defendant’s past.

While the prosecution must establish its case beyond a reasonable doubt, the defense has no obligation to present a case. When advantageous the defense may rely solely upon raising a reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case.

After the closing arguments, the judge will read specific instructions to the jury outlining the legal standards necessary to decide if the defendant is to be found guilty or not guilty. The jury then leaves the courtroom to deliberate the case.

If all jurors cannot reach a unanimous decision, the jury is “hung,” and the case may be dismissed or it may be tried in front of a new jury.

Let us help you!

If you need any legal assistance in the Lehigh Valley, please feel free to contact us.  Our Easton Law Office will get back to you within one business day.  Or, just call us now.

Call :(484)548-0529

Mon – Fri 09:00-17:00

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