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What is Criminal Harassment in Massachusetts?

criminal harassment

Criminal harassment can be a serious offense in Massachusetts and can carry jail time. The law is designed to protect people who are being stalked, even if the actions do not fall under the specific definition of stalking in Massachusetts law.

Criminal harassment is a misdemeanor that is generally prosecuted in district court.

What are the Elements?

The Commonwealth must show the following elements:

  1. You engaged in a knowing pattern of conduct on at least three separate occasions;
  2. You intended to target a specific person with the harassing conduct on each occasion;
  3. The conduct seriously alarmed the victim;
  4. The conduct would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress;
  5. You committed the conduct willfully and maliciously.

The acts can be electronic as well.

You may also be subjected to a harassment prevention order or a restraining order.  No-contact orders and other conditions of bail could be imposed on you.  If the victim lives with you, you could effectively be evicted from your home.

What is the Penalty for Criminal Harassment in Massachusetts?

Criminal harassment is a misdemeanor on first offense that can be punished by up to two-and-a-half years in the House of Corrections. If you have a prior conviction for criminal harassment or stalking, the second charge is a concurrent felony that can be either punished by up to two-and-a-half years in jail or ten years in prison if indicted.

The penalty for criminal harassment depends on your criminal record and the situation.  You should contact a criminal defense attorney to get advice on your exact situation.


If you’ve been charged with criminal harassment, you need to hire an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact me today, and let’s get started on your defense.

My office is located in Boston, Massachusetts, but I handle criminal cases, including larceny, in all Massachusetts courts. Contact me at (617) 295-7500.


Although I am an attorney, I am not your attorney.  Please do not rely on anything on this page as legal advice because any specific advice would depend on your situation.  Any results posted on this page are not guarantees of outcomes in your case.

Boston Attorney

The court system is stressful, whether you’re being charged with a crime, being sued, suing someone, or fighting for your ability to stay and work in this country. You need someone who appreciates this and can dedicate the time not only to represent you effectively in court but to guide you through the process.

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