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I've received threats of false harassment charges and I'm…

Hi, I've received threats...

Hi, I've received threats of false harassment charges and I'm just wondering what my options are.

Lawyer's Assistant: Do they have any upcoming court dates on the harassment charges?

Not to my knowledge.

Lawyer's Assistant: In what state did the harassment occur?

Indiana

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Sure, the threats of harassment were received after attempting to collect money this person owed me and my belongings after a breakup.

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Answered in 10 minutes by:
3/14/2018
Nate
Nate, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 10,724
Experience: Over 10 years of criminal defense practice.
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Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will be assisting you today.

You mentioned threats of harassment. Have you been contacted by the police or received anything at all in the mail?

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
No, I have not been contacted by the police, but the person threatening me sent me a letter via email when I asked him for my money back.
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
I can send the PDF of the letter if appropriate

Sure. Go ahead and send the letter. I'll be happy to take a look at it.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Okay, here is the letter.
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
I can also send the email exchange if that's helpful?

Okay. Well, at this point, the law does allow him to request that you not contact him. Indiana has a few harassment laws on the books. In particular, Indiana Code § 35–45–2–2(a) states that "a person who, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person but with no intent of legitimate communication: (1) makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues; (2) communicates with a person by telegraph, mail, or other form of written communication …commits harassment, a Class B misdemeanor."

In short, if he doesn't want contact, you could end up dealing with some legal issues, especially since the request to have no contact is in writing. If he still owes you money my suggestion would simply be to sue in small claims court. That way you can potentially get back what you are owed and avoid any potential police issues.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Here is the email exchange. Apart from asking for my belongings and for this money back, I have not contacted him or seen him since we broke up, which was six months ago. I have expressed in other emails repeatedly that I don't want contact. I am wondering whether this could be viewed as harassment on his end, since his intent seems to be to intimidate or threaten me.

After looking at all that, I still think you'd be better off just going to small claims court and letting a judge take care of whatever money issues or property there is left to be split up. In my experience, further contact is not going to accomplish anything at all.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Sorry, I should be more clear. I have received the payment from him, so the money issue is now resolved. I have no reason or desire to contact him in the future. He has a history of asking me not to contact him and accusing me of harassment when I am not harassing him, then re-entering my life, and I am concerned this will continue to be an issue in the future. To add context, I had him blocked on everything and had not spoken to him in a year, and he moved across the country two miles from my place of residence with no legitimate ties to this city (family, friends, etc.) apart from me and reached out to my friends to get in touch with me. We attended couples therapy for 6 months after he moved here, and he was referred for individual therapy repeatedly because he is emotionally and verbally abusive. Recently, I was sexually assaulted, and he shared this information with multiple people to intentionally humiliate me. He has in the past also sent me multiple emails that are sexually derogative and vulgar. I am just concerned that this would impede my ability to pursue a no contact order or PPO myself if I needed to in the future.

If he continues with that kind of behavior you could have your only claim for harassment. If everything is settled, and he contacts you again in any of those ways, take it straight to law enforcement. Do not respond. Any response that is even remotely civil makes it look as though you are not really bothered by his contact.

As for his threats, let him threaten away. If you aren't contacting him he has nothing at all to work with. If he wants to be delusional, that is just unfortunate for him.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Okay. If he contacts me at all, can I go straight to law enforcement? Do I need to send him a similar "no contact request" beforehand to be able to do so?

It does help if you have that in writing. It makes very clear that he knew not to contact you further.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Would I be at risk for facing harassment charges if I send him that now? I have sent him multiple emails previously asking him to stop that behavior and have repeatedly said I would pursue a PPO if it didn't stop. Is that null if I contacted him after the fact to ask for my money back, even if I made it clear that I only wanted to discuss the money and nothing else?

Any contact is problematic. At this point, I would suggest doing nothing. If he contacts you again, then you tell him to leave you alone. And that's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Okay. So just to be clear, that he insisted to come to my apartment and/or send his friends here to deliver that letter, despite being told repeatedly that I don't want contact would not be considered harassment?

The goal is not to involve legal matters, unless absolutely necessary. The goal is to be left alone. Since you're done with the money issues, there is no reason to bother with any further contact.

As for potential harassment issues, all that matters is what you said the last time you communicated. I know there is a temptation to want to be able to do something, but the truth is the best thing that can be done when dealing with someone who you do not want to see again (from a legal AND practical perspective) is to ignore their continued existence until they do something unprovoked, at which point you can then involve the police.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Okay. So because I contacted him regarding the money rather than going directly to small claims court, there is nothing I can do to get a PPO or no contact order at this point, even if I can prove a pattern of verbal/emotional abuse that can be verified by a professional third party witness (our therapist) and show that he would go so far as to move across the country to be near me after ignoring him for a year, other than wait for him to do something again?

If he is still doing things (in addition to those emails you sent over) sure you can. If he's not doing anything now, the court is going to rightly ask why did you wait, and is likely to view the whole thing as sour grapes and toss it out. Plus, I'd bet he'd file his own complaint which you would also have to deal with, rightly or wrongly.

If he's not threatening anything now and is not going out of his way to bother you, there is no benefit to initiating any sort of additional interactions. The old saying of "letting sleeping dogs lie" certainly applies here.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
I understand, my concern is that this has been ongoing for five years now. Until now, he has not insisted on coming to my apartment or sending his friends over to deliver an unnecessary letter solely to threaten/intimidate me (when he could have just emailed and electronically transferred the money, which he ended up doing anyway). The verbal/emotional abuse regarding my sexual assault took place within the last 6 months. In addition to losing a considerable amount of money that he owed me, I'm a graduate student and don't make much to begin with, so I was concerned about the cost of filing for a PPO/no contact order.

Fair enough. If you believe you need it the good news is that cost is not a factor. There is no cost to filing an order of protection in Indiana. All the forms and instructions you need can be found here.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Oh, okay. I didn't realize that. Thank you for sending that. Although there is no cost to file, wouldn't I need to pay for an attorney?

Hiring an attorney is up to you. Most people go themselves without one. The judges are used to that.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Okay, I didn't realize that either. If I go forward without an attorney, how should I prepare?

Just be sure to bring all of your documents / emails with you. The judge will ask questions to make sure he understands what's going on.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Would it be valuable to try to get records from our couples therapy? I would need his consent to release the forms to me, which isn't ideal. I have a screenshot of a text from our therapist acknowledging his abusive behavior and that he was repeatedly referred to individual therapy for this. Would that be useful, or not so much?

He is not going to consent to that. I wouldn't bother.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Okay. Would the text screenshot from the therapist carry much weight?

Not especially. You have personal communications with him. That is what carries the most weight.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Okay. On the PPO request, I'm not sure which boxes to check for #7. Would insisting to come to my apartment or send friends over to deliver the letter I showed you earlier after I repeatedly said I did not want contact constitute as stalking?

I'm sorry, but we really cannot help prepare the document. Just stick to the facts as you can prove them. That's all that matters. It doesn't have to be done perfectly to be effective.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Okay, fair enough. Can physical harm include health conditions, like significant weight loss or reckless exposure to STIs?
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Or does "physical harm" only entail battery

Harm means anything. It does not have to be just battery.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Okay, thank you. What is considered a "sex offense" in Indiana?

Generally speaking, anything where the person knowingly causes another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Is aggressive yelling/intimidation considered "threatening," or would he have thad to threaten to physically restrain/coerce me

A threat is a threat. It doesn't have to be physical.

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At this point I think I've done about all I can to assist you with the situation. Thank you for using our service and please do take a moment to rate my assistance to you this evening.

Nate
Nate, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 10,724
Experience: Over 10 years of criminal defense practice.
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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Thank you.
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