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What is harassment?

Many people in Michigan may have a narrow perception of what constitutes harassment. In fact, harassment encompasses a broad range of different behaviors. Many of these behaviors can involve criminal punishment. Some may carry felony charges, while others are only misdemeanors. 

According to FindLaw, harassment laws vary from state to state, but generally speaking, harassment consists of threatening behaviors that put you in reasonable fear of your own safety and/or that of your family. Such behaviors may include excessively contacting with you without a legitimate reason or menacing you with a weapon. In some states, stalking constitutes harassment, but in Michigan, stalking is a separate offense. 

It is fairly common for a domestic abuser to engage in harassing behavior against a current or former significant other. In these cases, the victim often seeks to obtain a restraining order or order of protection from the court. 

When you hear the term "harassment," you may think of sexual harassment, but that is actually a separate issue. Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination. It carries civil liability, which means that if you are the victim of sexual harassment, you can bring a lawsuit against your harasser, but it is not a criminal offense. 

The charges and penalties for harassment may increase if an individual harasses you on the basis of a protected status, such as race, religion or national origin, if the harasser violates a restraining order or has a previous conviction for harassment. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.


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