What Constitutes Harassment in Minnesota?

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

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.

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

The Criminal Consequences of Harassment

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.

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.