July 1, 2023 | Criminal Defense
The state of Ohio takes criminal harassment seriously, and offenders face serious repercussions if charged with this offense. If you’ve been arrested for harassment, it’s important to understand the charges, potential consequences, and legal defenses that can be raised.
Some of the most common charges that stem from harassing behavior include the following:
It is illegal to engage in sexual contact without another person’s consent in Ohio. Sexual contact is defined as touching the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or the breast of a female.
This is known as sexual imposition, sometimes referred to as groping, and is a misdemeanor of the third degree punishable by up to 60 days in prison.
Ohio law prohibits reckless exposure of private parts, sexual conduct, and masturbation in public spaces. Any harasser exhibiting these behaviors in public places, such as a park, on public transportation, or in a store, can be reported.
Flashing or exposure is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree with penalties of up to 30 days in jail. Masturbation and other sexual conduct are a misdemeanor of the third degree with penalties of up to 60 days in prison.
Menacing by Stalking
Ohio has a law against stalking. People who engage in a pattern of behavior that causes another person to fear for their safety or mental well-being can be arrested. Menacing by stalking is usually punishable by up to 180 days in jail. However, if certain aggravating factors are present, it can be charged as a felony, and jail time can be increased.
In Ohio, menacing is typically categorized as a fourth-degree misdemeanor. A person can be charged with menacing if they knowingly cause another person to feel threatened by harm to their person, property, unborn child, or immediate family. This threat may be delivered through direct communication or by other means, such as third-party involvement.
If convicted of menacing, you face up to 30 days in jail, a maximum fine of $250, and up to 5 years on probation.
Aggravated menacing, on the other hand, is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio. This charge arises when a person knowingly threatens another individual with serious physical harm towards their person, property, or family. These threats may be communicated directly or indirectly, and they must be severe enough to cause significant fear.
A conviction carries up to 180 days in jail, fines reaching up to $1,000, and probation lasting up to 5 years.
Legal Defenses to Harassment Charges in Ohio
Several legal defenses might apply to your harassment case in Ohio, depending on the specific circumstances. Some of the most common include the following:
Lack of Credibility
Disputing the accuser’s credibility can be an effective defense when faced with harassment charges. By presenting evidence that challenges the authenticity of the claims, it may be possible to create reasonable doubt in the mind of the judge or jury.
One of the most common defenses in harassment cases is the claim of false accusations. There could be numerous reasons why someone might falsely accuse you of harassment: personal vendettas, misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and more.
If you believe you have been falsely accused, your attorney will need to gather evidence to demonstrate that the accusations are unfounded.
Constitutional Rights Violations
During the course of an investigation or arrest, law enforcement officers must adhere to certain legal rules and procedures in order to protect your constitutional rights. For instance, they must have reasonable suspicion to initiate a stop and probable cause to support an arrest.
If these protocols are not followed, your attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress any evidence obtained in violation of your rights, which could weaken the prosecution’s case against you.
Another solid defense strategy is to argue that there’s a lack of evidence connecting the accused individual to the alleged harassment, making it impossible to determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Contact a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer If You’re Facing Harassment Charges
Criminal harassment charges in the state of Ohio are a serious matter. If you have been charged with criminal harassment, you face fines and jail time. Additionally, these types of charges can have lasting consequences on your life, including difficulty obtaining employment or housing opportunities due to having a record.
Contact a Cincinnati criminal defense attorney for help with your harassment case.
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202