man being handcuffed through barsThis is my second post in a series of articles which will discuss dealing with Peoria, Illinois charges of stalking and harassment. My last article provided an overview of the topics to be discussed throughout this series. Many individuals are not aware of the type of behavior that could lead to harassment charges. Such charges are serious and convictions can lead to jail time and a criminal record. Retaining a criminal defense attorney can be critical. In this post, I will discuss Illinois’ law for the crime of harassment. If you or someone you know needs assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

Peoria defendants can face a Class “B” misdemeanor for harassment

The crime of harassment in the state of Illinois for a first offense is a class “B” misdemeanor. If convicted, you can face up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. A second or subsequent charge of harassment enhances the crime to a class “A” misdemeanor with jail time of up to one year and a $2,500 fine. Harassing conduct includes any communication that would cause a reasonable person to experience emotional distress. A person can commit harassment by communicating with the victim through obscene messages, a telephone call, or electronic communication. If the defendant engaged in harassment and also threatened to kill the victim or the victim was under the age of 18, the charge can be increased to a Class 4 felony. A Class 4 felony carries mandatory prison time of one year to three years and a fine of up to $25,000. Any time you are convicted of a crime, the consequences are more than just jail time. A criminal record can result in issues in obtaining employment, housing, or professional certifications.

Consider the following example. An individual texts a person with an annoying or lewd comment, and that person does not respond or asks the individual to stop texting them. If that individual continues to text and calls the same person repeatedly, it is possible that this conduct could result in a charge for harassment. Conversely, if the individual persists and includes threatening comments seeking to get the person to answer them, this behavior could result in a felony conviction. Also, if the victim is under the age of 18 or the individual was previously charged with harassment, this could elevate the crime of harassment to a felony. Aggravating circumstances such as these can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of a year in jail or more.

Defendants facing harassment charges are also often charged with violating a protective order

The first recourse for a victim of harassment is to obtain a restraining order. This is an order that is relatively easily granted by the Court to protect the victim. The restraining order will place limits on how the offending party can conduct themselves. It may prohibit the defendant from contacting, approaching, or in any way bothering the protected party. Individuals charged with harassment often have already had a restraining order issued against them. This means that one may face charges for both harassment and violating a restraining order. Violation of a protective order can carry up to a year in jail time. This could be in addition to any penalties for the harassment charge.

Although these matters usually occur between people that know each other, once law enforcement is involved, it is no longer a private matter. If a protective order has been filed against you, it is imperative you do not seek to address the matter directly with the victim. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you in refuting the claims and resolving the charges. If you have been charged with harassment, then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria criminal defense attorney. We also serve the cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. I serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Shuyler, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford. I also handle federal cases in Urbana.