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When is sexual harassment a crime?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2023 | Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is often a civil issue, but it can cross the line and become a criminal charge. Typically, harassment involves only words and no physical contact. Obviously, if it turns physical, it would be a sex crime, which goes beyond the definition of harassment of any type.

However, it is possible for non-physical situations to also become criminal. They might fall under New York’s harassment laws.

Harassment defined

For harassment of any kind to be a crime, it must be intentional and repeatedly occurring. It also must involve one person following another in public or making the other person feel fear of physical injury.

To reach criminal levels, there must be something that takes the harassment to another level for it to meet this definition because general sexual harassment involves only words and makes people feel uncomfortable but does not make them fearful.

Elevating a situation

General sexual harassment can elevate to the level of criminal harassment when a person is too intense and will not stop despite repeated requests to do so. Once they begin targeting another person, it can become very intimidating. The other person may begin to think the simple harassing statements could escalate and become fearful for their safety.

Most situations of sexual harassment stay under the threshold for criminal charges. However, it is important to understand how they could become a criminal matter, and why it is important to avoid this as it could result in a criminal record, fines, and potential time in jail or prison.