Understand California Harassment Laws

Harassment comes in many different forms, from stalking and threats to abuse and assault. In California, harassment in any form is prohibited under state law, and violators may face severe, possibly lifelong penalties.

If you have been arrested or accused of harassment in California, do not face the harsh consequences alone. At Aron Law Firm, we conduct full, independent investigations into our clients’ cases to identify the most effective way to defend their interests. Our goal is to have your harassment charges reduced or, in some cases, dropped entirely.

What Are the Different Types of Harassment Laws in California?

Harassment is a crime that involves repeated acts that annoy, alarm, or torment another person. In California, harassment crimes may be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances of your particular case.

Harassment might include:

  • Saying things that instill fear in the victim
  • Physically following another individual
  • Sending someone unwanted text messages or emails
  • Making threats
  • Repeatedly calling the victim on the phone
  • Unwanted touching
  • Engaging in conduct with the intent to annoy or alarm another person

The State of California prohibits harassment in Penal Code Sections 653.2 and 646.9. Here is what you should know about each of these laws:

California Penal Code Section 646.9

California Penal Code Section 646.9 outlaws the act of stalking as harassment in California. It reads as follows:

“Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking…”

This crime is punishable by California county jail incarceration up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000 or by both the fine and imprisonment.

You may be charged with stalking under Penal Code 646.9 if you repeatedly communicate with someone, even if you do not make direct threats or harm them physically. The law defines “harassing” as engaging in conduct aimed at a particular person that causes substantial emotional distress or reasonable fear for their safety,  involving one of the following:

  • Frequently following another person (or having others follow them)
  • Repeatedly contacting another person by phone, mail, or other forms of communication

A Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer will explain how this applies to your case. 

California Penal Code Section 653.2

California Penal Code Section 653.2 prohibits electronic cyber harassment in California. It states that any person who:

“[…] with intent to place another person in reasonable fear for his or her safety […] by means of an electronic communication device […] and for the purpose of imminently causing that other person unwanted physical contact, injury, or harassment, […] is guilty of a misdemeanor[…]”

In other words, stalking or harassing a person online or through another electronic device could face up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both that fine and imprisonment.

Fight a Charge of Harassment With an Assertive California Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with harassment, it is essential to understand the legal definition of this crime and its consequences. An Aron Law Firm criminal defense attorney will help you navigate the California criminal justice system and fight back against any allegations of harassment made against you.

Contact us today by calling (805) 618-1768 or filling out our contact form to schedule a confidential case evaluation with one of our experienced California criminal defense attorneys.