Orange County Harassment Defense Lawyer
Harassment charges can result in serious ramifications for your life. Not only could you face criminal charges, including jail time and fines, but you may also have to abide by a restraining order that will severely restrict where you can go and what you can do in Orange County. It may also be a serious blow to your reputation and affect your ability to make a living. But building a strong legal defense and securing a skilled attorney could be key to protecting your freedom and clearing your name. If you have been served with a civil harassment order and you are not sure what to do, then let the OC criminal attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti help you. Schedule a consultation by calling us at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999.
As outlined by Penal Code 646.9 PC, harassment and stalking charges refer to when a suspect follows, harasses, commits an act of violence, or threatens violence against an individual. Any one of these actions can lead to the alleged victim filing a restraining order against the accused, in addition to other criminal charges.
To successfully charge a defendant with harassment, the prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant intentionally harmed, threatened, annoyed, or terrorized a specific person with no “legitimate purpose” two or more times in a short period of time. In addition, if there is a threat of violence, the prosecution must show that it was credible or that the accused felt “reasonable fear” that the defendant could carry out the threat.
Accusations of stalking and harassment can include the following unwelcomed actions:
- Telephone calls
- Social media messages
- Physical presence at or near an alleged victim's home or work
Furthermore, a defendant can also be charged with making criminal threats, or credible threats of violence that reasonably place the victim in fear for his or her safety or the safety of loved ones.
Charges of harassment can lead to both criminal or civil penalties, typically in the form of a restraining order. Stalking charges are taken more seriously, however, and you may face either misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the circumstances of your case.
Misdemeanor stalking charges can lead to:
- Up to one year in a county jail
- Summary probation and/or
- A fine of up to $1,000.
In contrast, felony stalking charges can lead to:
- Up to five years in a California state prison
- Formal probation and/or
- A fine of up to $10,000.
If an individual believes they are being harassed or stalked, they may contact a California court to file for a civil harassment order (CHO) in addition to criminal charges. A CHO is an injunction designed to stop and prohibit further harassment. A CHO can be filed against a:
- Friend who the plaintiff never dated
- Distant relative
If accused by a spouse, close family member, or someone who you dated, you will likely be served a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) instead of a CHO. However, a CHO can be filed against a family member who is not directly related to the plaintiff and does not fill the DVRO requirements, such as an aunt, uncle, or cousin.
The general rules of a CHO can include:
- Barring the accused from contacting the plaintiff
- Barring the accused from coming within a specific radius of the plaintiff
- Requiring the accused to remove all firearms from his or her property
This can lead to drastic changes to the accused lifestyle, especially if they work or live near the alleged victim and may accidentally violate the terms of the order.
If you are subject to a CHO, you are likely having a difficult time living your day-to-day life with these restrictions. It is important to always abide by the order until it expires or until your attorney can have it dismissed by the court, otherwise you may face additional penalties.
Violating a restraining order is a misdemeanor crime in California that comes with a maximum of one year in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if you are charged a second time, your sentencing can advance to felony charges, which may lead to a maximum sentencing of three years in a state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. In addition, any charges of bodily harm during the violation of a restraining order can lead to a minimum of 30 days in a county jail.
Fighting a civil harassment order can be extremely difficult without proper representation, which is why it is imperative that you contact the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti to discuss your case. Our lead attorney can evaluate your situation and build a strong defense that can lead to the order being dismissed by the court.
Your attorney can employ several defenses to ensure your rights are protected. Remember, the burden of proof is on your accuser, meaning they must demonstrate that you intentionally and knowingly committed harassment. It is possible you may have been seen around the area where an alleged victim lives or works, but he or she must be able to concretely link you to messages and/or actions of harassment. Your attorney can formulate a defense documented by telephone, email, social media, and internal computer records, as well as surveillance footage and witness statements, to demonstrate that you were not at the location the accused said you were.
If you are faced with charges of violating a CHO, your attorney may also build a defense arguing that you:
- Did not intend to violate the order and accidentally came into contact with the accused, such as at a local business or public event
- Were not aware that a CHO had been filed against you or that the CHO had been extended
- Were falsely accused and there is no evidence to support the claims against you
Defending against a CHO or getting one dismissed is not impossible, but you must act now to get the best legal defense in Orange County.
Being accused of stalking and harassment not only limits where you can go, but it also has a major social stigma. The Law Office of Michael L. Guisti has the necessary experience and skills to fight for you and your rights. Do not give up on your reputation or your life. Call us at (714) 530-9690 now to secure the legal aid of a knowledgeable OC defense attorney.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.