Harassment is often charged as a gross misdemeanor in the State of Washington. However, there are instances when a prosecutor may charge the crime as a felony. An example is when you harass a person and have a prior conviction for harassing the same “victim” or a member of the “victim’s” family. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you are facing any type of harassment charge.

When is Harassment Charged as a Felony Under Washington Law?

RCW 9A.46.020(2)(b) is the statute that sets forth the crime of felony harassment. You are guilty of this offense if you:

  • Harass a person and have a prior conviction for harassing the same person or a member of the person’s family,
  • Harass a person by threatening to kill the person,
  • Harass a criminal justice participant who is performing his or her official duties at the time of the harassment, or
  • Harass a criminal justice participant because of an action taken or decision made by the criminal justice participant during the performance of his or her official duties.

For purposes of this section, a “criminal justice participant” includes any:

  • Federal, state, or local law enforcement agency employee,
  • Federal, state, or local prosecuting attorney or deputy prosecuting attorney,
  • Staff member of any adult corrections institution or local adult detention facility,
  • Staff member of any juvenile corrections institution or local juvenile detention facility,
  • Community corrections officer, probation, or parole officer,
  • Member of the indeterminate sentence review board,
  • Advocate from a crime victim/witness program, or
  • Defense attorney.

What are the Penalties?

A violation of RCW 9A.46.020(2)(b) is a Class C felony. A Class C felony under Washington law is punishable by:

  • Custody in state prison for up to five years, and/or
  • A maximum fine of $10,000.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. You have the right to challenge a felony harassment charge with a legal defense. A common defense is for you to show that your harassment did not involve any of the conditions set forth in RCW 9A.46.020(2)(b), and as a result, you should only be charged with misdemeanor harassment.

A more impactful defense is for your criminal defense attorney to show that your specific acts towards a “victim” did not even amount to “harassment.” In this case, you would not face any type of misdemeanor or felony harassment charge at all, and your case would likely be dismissed.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a harassment charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on a wide variety of harassment charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!

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