Ridgefield First-Degree Harassment Lawyer
Under certain circumstances, the severity of a criminal charge for Harassment can be elevated from a relatively minor misdemeanor to a felony offense punishable by multiple years of imprisonment, even for a first-time offender. If you are facing a Harassment in the First Degree charge, you should make speaking with and retaining a skilled Ridgefield First-Degree Harassment lawyer your top priority, especially if this is not the first time you have been accused of this type of offense.
Legal Differences Between Second- and First-Degree Harassment
According to Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) § 53a-183, someone commits the offense of Harassment in the Second Degree if they intentionally harass, alarm, intimidate, or terrorize another person without any legitimate purpose for doing so. Whether it is done through the mail, over the internet, private text messaging, public dissemination of words or images, or over the phone with or without a two-way conversation taking place, this offense is considered a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and $500 in maximum fines.
However, this offense may be treated as Harassment in the First Degree as defined under C.G.S. § 53a-182b if the perpetrator uses any form of written or verbal communication through any type of communication network to threaten to physically injure or kill the person they are communicating with or a third person, and if the perpetrator has one or more prior criminal convictions for any of the following offenses:
- Any capital offense or Class A felony;
- Any Class B felony except for Promotion of Prostitution in the First Degree or Larceny in the First Degree;
- Any class C felony except for Promotion of Prostitution in the Second Degree, Bribery of a Juror, or Bribe Receiving by a Juror; and/or
- Any of the following Class D felonies: any variation of Assault in the Second or Third Degrees, Sexual Assault in the Third Degree with or without a firearm, Unlawful Restraint in the First Degree, Burglary in the Third Degree with or without a firearm, Reckless Burning, Robbery in the Third Degree, or Criminal Use of a Firearm or Electronic Defense Weapon.
A Ridgefield Harassment attorney can go into further detail during a confidential consultation regarding exactly what the Connecticut Penal Code says about this offense and how state courts interpret it.
What Could a First-Degree Harassment Conviction Lead To?
C.G.S. § 53a-182b categorizes Harassment in the First Degree as a Class D felony, which means a first-time offender could face maximum penalties upon conviction of up to five years of incarceration and $5,000 in fines. Additionally, this section of the Connecticut Penal Code gives courts explicit authority to order a psychiatric evaluation of anyone convicted of this offense, which may, in turn, lead to a recommendation or requirement for further psychiatric care.
It is worth noting as well that the harassment of a family or household member in Ridgefield will likely result in the offense being categorized as a “family violence” offense. As any experienced defense lawyer can affirm, this would, in turn, lead to a very restrictive protective order being imposed against the defendant, the possibility of a long-term standing criminal protective order upon conviction, and an investigation by the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) to determine whether the defendant should have custody and/or visitation rights with their children taken away.
Contact a Ridgefield First-Degree Harassment Attorney for Assistance
Anyone facing First-Degree Harassment charges is very likely to wind up looking at years behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines if they are convicted. Put simply, if you have been accused of this kind of offense, you will almost certainly need representation from a knowledgeable Ridgefield First-Degree Harassment lawyer if you want a fair shot at getting a favorable case result.