How to File Criminal Charges for Harassment

By Rita Radostitz - Updated June 05, 2017
Woman using cellphone

If you believe that you are being harassed, you should report it to the police and ask that criminal charges be instituted. If the harassment is extreme and you believe that you are in danger of imminent harm, call 911 immediately. If you have been harassed, you can either go to the police station and make a report in person, or you can call the non-emergency number for your local police department to report the harassment. Every state defines harassment differently, so you will need to determine if the behavior constitutes harassment in your state.

Gather Information About the Harassment

Prepare to contact the police by first gathering all the information you can about the harassment. It is a good idea to write out a list that includes the name and contact information (if you know it) of the person who is harassing you and the exact behavior that you believe constitutes harassment. You should also write out the exact date and place that the harassment occurred. For safety's sake, be sure to inform family members and some of your friends about the harassment.

Call the Police

Contact or visit your local police department to file criminal charges for harassment. If the person has threatened you in any way, and that threat puts you in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise call the non-emergency phone number. Some police departments allow you to file a report through their website. Even if you do this, you should follow up with an in-person visit or telephone call to the police department to ensure that they are following up on your report. Have that list handy so that you can provide detailed information about the harassment to the police officer taking the report.

Turn Over Evidence

Turn over any evidence you have of the harassment to the police. For example, if the person has been leaving harassing phone calls on your answering machine, bring the machine (or tape) with you. If there are any witnesses, bring a list of their names and contact information. If there are documents that show the harassment, make a copy before you give them to the police in case the police want to keep the originals. Be aware that the police will investigate your charge of harassment, and if they arrest the person, they will be required to disclose your name as the victim of the harassment. If you believe that will put you in risk of harm, be sure to let the police officer know.

Consider Taking Legal Action

Seek a restraining order legally barring the person from contacting you again if you are afraid the harassment will continue. An attorney can talk you through the legal process.

References

About the Author

Rita Radostitz lives in Eugene, Oregon. She has written about human rights, health & fitness and interesting people for years. Her articles have appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Oregon Quarterly and on various websites. Radostitz holds a Masters of Science in journalism with distinction from the University of Oregon and a law degree cum laude from Villanova University.

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