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Understanding the Indiana Harassment Law 

The Indiana harassment law serves as a critical framework for maintaining the safety and dignity of its residents. This legislation is designed to address and penalize various forms of harassment, reflecting the state’s commitment to fostering a secure and respectful community. Harassment, as defined by this law, encompasses a wide range of undesirable behaviors, including unwanted communication, threats, and other actions that can significantly impact an individual’s well-being and sense of security. Recognized as a criminal offense, harassment is taken very seriously by the legal system in Indiana, with consequences that can severely affect the lives of those involved. 

Understanding harassment as a criminal offense is crucial, as it underscores the gravity of such actions and their repercussions on both victims and perpetrators. The seriousness of the crime cannot be overstated; it can lead to significant legal penalties, including fines, restraining orders, and even imprisonment, depending on the severity and nature of the harassment. Beyond the immediate legal consequences, being accused or convicted of harassment can tarnish one’s reputation, career, and personal relationships, casting long shadows over the future. 

Given the profound implications of harassment charges, it is paramount for individuals facing such accusations to seek skilled legal representation. Hiring the best criminal defense lawyer in Indiana is not merely a step towards legal defense; it is an essential measure to protect your rights, your reputation, and your future. With a dedicated attorney by your side, you can ensure that your side of the story is heard, and that you receive a fair and just consideration under the law.  

The criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are led by two former deputy prosecutors who understand the complexities of the Indiana harassment law and are adept at navigating its intricacies. They also have both prosecuted and defended individuals charged with harassment in Indiana, and thus have a strong understanding of how these types of cases typically play out in a court of law. Who better protects your rights and your future than an attorney with significant insight into the prosecution’s strategy?  

To begin the process of protecting your future and building a sound defense, contact an Indiana criminal defense lawyer today by calling 317-857-0160 or completing our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

The Indiana Harassment Law  

The Indiana harassment law can be found in Indiana Code 35-45-2-2, which classifies this offense as a Class B Misdemeanor. As stated in this section of Indiana law, an act of criminal harassment occurs when a person does one of the following actions with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, but with no intent of legitimate communication:  

  1. Makes a phone call, whether or not a conversation ensues 
  1. Communicates with a person by telegraph, mail, or other form of written communication 
  1. Transmits an obscene message, or indecent or profane words, on a Citizens Radio Service Channel 
  1. Uses a computer network or other form of electronic communication to communicate with a person or transmit an obscene message or indecent or profane words to a person 

The law goes on further to precisely explain what constitutes an “obscene” message. As stated in the statute, a message shall be considered “obscene,” if: (a) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the dominant themes of the message, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex; (b) the message refers to sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; or (c) the message, taken as a whole, lacks serious artistic, literary, political, or scientific value.  

In addition, in regard to the Indiana law on harassment, the term “computer network,” shall be understood as “the interconnection of communication lines or wireless telecommunications with a computer or wireless telecommunication device through remote terminals; a complex consisting of two or more interconnected computers; or a worldwide collection of interconnected networks operating as the internet.”  

Intimidation vs. Harassment 

The Indiana laws on intimidation and harassment are both contained in Indiana Code 35-45-2, and are often confused with one another. However, they are remarkably different offenses. The critical difference between harassment and intimidation lies in the nature and intent of the perpetrator’s actions. Harassment focuses on actions intended to annoy or alarm without legitimate purpose, often involving repeated or pervasive unwelcome communications. Intimidation, however, involves a direct threat with the intent to coerce behavior, instill fear, or disrupt societal functions, carrying potentially graver consequences and penalties. 

In addition, intimidation, detailed in Indiana Code 35-45-2-1, can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor but escalates to a Level 6 or even a Level 5 felony under circumstances involving forcible felonies, threats to judicial officers, or in connection with acts of terrorism. This gradation of charges underlines the seriousness with which Indiana views the act of intimidation, reflecting its potential to inflict significant psychological, physical, and societal harm. 

Potential Penalties for Harassment in Indiana  

As prescribed by the Indiana harassment law, a person may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for committing the offense of harassment. Per the Indiana sentencing guidelines, a Class B misdemeanor is punishable by 0-180 days in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. In less severe situations of harassment, a person convicted of the offense is not likely to be given a sentence that includes incarceration. They may, however, be given a suspended sentence and placed, instead, on probation in Indiana. While probation is certainly preferable to incarceration, it does come with its own set of rules and regulations; and violating these rules can result in additional criminal penalties. In some cases, the offender may have their probation period extended or modified; and in other cases, they may need to serve the remainder of their suspended sentence in prison.  

Collateral Consequences 

While the criminal penalties associated with a conviction for harassment in Indiana are not the most severe, the collateral consequences of such a conviction can follow a person for years to come. For instance, a criminal conviction on your record could impact your ability to obtain employment, financial assistance, and/or housing. Thankfully, however, through the Indiana expungement process, your criminal records may be sealed after a certain period of time. For a person convicted of a Class B misdemeanor, courts must grant their expungement request if they meet the following criteria:  

  • Five years have passed since the date of conviction 
  • They have had no convictions in the five years prior to requesting expungement 
  • They have no pending criminal charges 
  • They have paid all fines, fees, court costs, and restitution orders 
  • They have paid the expungement filing fee 

Professional Licensing Concerns 

The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (PLA) oversees all licensed professionals in the state of Indiana. In doing so, they grant regulatory powers to various boards and commissions to determine how licenses are awarded and maintained. Many of these boards and commissions require their license holders to remain complaint with certain set of ethical standards. These standards typically include a rule that license holders cannot be convicted of a crime that is harmful to society or impairs their ability to practice their profession. While all professions, and the boards and commissions that govern them, are different, there are situations where a conviction for harassment could impact a person’s ability to obtain or maintain their professional license in Indiana. When this occurs, the best course of action is to hire an attorney who has experience handling both criminal and professional licensing matters. The Indiana professional license defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP do just that; not only are they experienced and skilled criminal defense attorneys, but they have defended countless Hoosiers before the boards and commissions that make up Indiana’s PLA. They understand the ins and outs of the PLA’s administrative processes and know what it takes to protect your professional license in Indiana.  

The Importance of Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney  

In the realm of criminal cases, particularly those involving charges of harassment, the role of a competent criminal defense lawyer cannot be overstated. These legal professionals are not only your first line of defense against the complexities of the legal system but also your staunchest advocate for seeking justice and preserving your rights. The importance of hiring an Indiana criminal defense lawyer lies in their expertise and ability to navigate the law’s nuances, potentially leading to reduced charges, minimized penalties, or even the complete dismissal of charges. 

Charge Reduction: In instances of harassment charges, the specifics matter greatly—what was said or done, under what circumstances, and with what intent. An adept attorney can often find grounds to argue for a reduction in the severity of charges based on these nuances, which is critical in avoiding the most severe penalties. 

Minimizing Penalties: Even in cases where the evidence is strong, a seasoned defense attorney can negotiate terms that significantly minimize penalties. This might include advocating for alternative sentences that focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment, such as counseling or community service, especially if it’s a first-time offense or if the circumstances suggest a lesser degree of malintent. In the complex web of legal statutes, an experienced defense lawyer knows the pathways through negotiations that can lead to a more favorable outcome. 

Dismissal of Charges: In certain situations, dismissal of charges might be possible. This outcome is often the result of legal technicalities, such as the improper handling of evidence, lack of probable cause for an arrest, or violation of the defendant’s rights. A criminal defense lawyer in Indiana with a keen eye for detail can identify these issues and argue for the charges to be dismissed altogether. 

Potential Defenses for Charges of Harassment in Indiana 

A skilled attorney brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, essential for developing a robust defense strategy. By thoroughly analyzing the details of your case, identifying procedural errors, and challenging the evidence presented against you, a lawyer can significantly impact the outcome of your case. 

  • Lack of Intent: Demonstrating that the accused did not intend to harass, annoy, or alarm the plaintiff can be a powerful defense. Intent is a crucial component of harassment charges, and proving its absence can undermine the prosecution’s case. 
  • Freedom of Speech: In some cases, the defense may argue that the actions in question are protected under the First Amendment, especially if they involve political statements or other forms of protected speech. However, this defense must be carefully balanced against the specifics of harassment law. 
  • Consent: If it can be shown that the interactions were consensual or that the accused had reasonable grounds to believe they were, this can negate allegations of harassment. 
  • Mistaken Identity: Especially relevant in the digital age, proving that the accused was not the person who committed the alleged harassment can dismiss the case. 

Hiring the best Indiana criminal defense lawyer is about more than just legal representation; it’s about securing a partner who can guide you through one of life’s most challenging moments with expertise, compassion, and a deep commitment to justice. For anyone facing harassment charges, the decision to engage a knowledgeable Indiana defense attorney can make the difference between a life-altering conviction and a second chance. 

Facing Charges Under the Indiana Harassment Law? 

In conclusion, navigating the complexities of the Indiana harassment laws requires a nuanced understanding of legal principles and the skilled advocacy of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer. These laws are designed to protect individuals and maintain public order, but they also present significant challenges for those accused of such crimes. The distinctions between harassment and intimidation, while clear in legal texts, can become blurred in real-life situations, making the role of a competent attorney indispensable. 

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer offers the best chance not only to defend against accusations but also to understand the legal landscape, strategize effectively, and argue for the most favorable outcome possible. Whether it’s negotiating for reduced charges, minimizing penalties, or seeking the dismissal of charges, the value of experienced legal counsel cannot be overstated. Furthermore, understanding potential defenses for harassment charges and knowing when and how to apply them can profoundly impact the outcome of a trial. 

For individuals facing legal challenges related to harassment or intimidation, the stakes are high. The consequences of a conviction can extend far beyond legal penalties, affecting personal relationships, employment opportunities, and one’s standing in the community. Given this, the best course of action to take following an arrest is to call the criminal defense law firm of Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our defense attorneys understand the intricacies of Indiana’s legal system and are committed to providing our clients with the robust defense and expert guidance they deserve. Facing legal accusations can be daunting, but with our legal team by your side, you can navigate the challenges ahead with confidence and secure the best possible outcome for your future. 

To speak with a criminal defense lawyer today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Article Name
Understanding the Indiana Harassment Law
This article is an overview of the Indiana harassment law
Publisher Name
Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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