What Constitutes Harassment in Minnesota?

What is Considered Harassment?

According to Minnesota law, harassment occurs when a person knowingly engages in behavior that adversely affects the person subject to the conduct.

Specifically, Minnesota Statutes § 609.749 provides that the act would cause the alleged victim to feel:

  • Frightened,
  • Threatened,
  • Oppressed,
  • Prosecuted, or
  • Intimidated

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Interesting to note about the law is the prosecutor does not have to prove that the defendant intended to cause any of the above reactions. Thus, a person may be accused and convicted of harassment even if they did something innocent that another person mistook as potentially harmful behavior.

What Qualifies as a Harassment Charge?

Any of the following acts may be considered harassment:

  • Intending to injure another person, their property, or their rights – whether directly or indirectly;
  • Following another person either physically or through electronic means;
  • Returning to someone else's property without permission from the owner
  • Constantly calling or texting another person
  • Calling someone and making their phone ring continuously
  • Repeatedly sending packages or correspondence to another person
  • Falsely accusing a peace officer of misconduct
  • Using someone else's information to solicit sex with another

Harassment Penalties in Minnesota

Harassment is a crime. Generally, it's charged as a gross misdemeanor, a conviction for which can lead to a jail term of up to 1 year and/or a fine of up to $3,000. However, under certain circumstances, it's considered an aggravated offense, and the potential punishments substantially increase.

Under the following conditions, a conviction may lead to imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000:

  • The alleged victim was targeted because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, or national origin;
  • A dangerous weapon was used in the commission of the crime;
  • The offense was committed to influence judicial proceedings;
  • The victim was under 18 years of age and the actor was more than 3 years older than them

A court can impose penalties similar to those stated above if a person is convicted of harassment within 10 years after a previous domestic assault-related offense. If the individual has two or more domestic assault convictions, then they may face imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

What's important to note is that a person who feels they are being harassed or stalked can seek a restraining order against the alleged offender.

If a court grants the request, the actor will be prohibited from:

  • Harassing or stalking the alleged victim, or
  • Contacting the alleged victim in any way

If the person named violates the order, they may face punishments separate from those levied for a harassment conviction.

Restraining Order Violation in MN

The potential penalties for a restraining order violation are as follows:

  • Misdemeanor: First offense
    • Up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of not more than $1,000
  • Gross misdemeanor: Second offense within 10 years of a domestic assault-related offense
    • Up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000
  • Felony: Imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000 when the offense
    • Occurred within 10 years of 2 or more domestic assault-related crimes
    • Was motivated by bias
    • Occurred by impersonating another
    • Was committed with a dangerous weapon
    • Occurred to influence judicial proceedings
    • Was committed against a person under 18 and the actor was 3 years older than them

If you've been accused of harassment in Minneapolis, call Brockton D. Hunter P.A. at (612) 979-1112 or contact us online.