Harassment is sometimes considered a lesser-included offense of simple assault. This means the conduct can be the same as that of simple assault but the penalties are less severe.

By way of example, one way a person may be found guilty of harassment is if they “strike, shove, kick, or otherwise subject [another] to physical contact, or attempt or threaten to do the same.” While one must do one of these things with the intention to “harass, annoy or alarm,” the prohibited conduct is obviously similar to that prohibited by simple assault, but the degree of the crime is less severe—it’s generally considered a summary offense.

A person, of course, can be convicted of harassment in other ways, and the grading of the crime is not necessarily a summary. One is guilty of harassment when, again, “with intent to harass, annoy or alarm,” they—

  • Follow another in a public place;
  • Engage in a course of conduct or repeatedly commit acts which serve no legitimate purpose;
    Communicate to or about another any lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures;
  • Communicate repeatedly in an anonymous manner;
  • Communicate repeatedly at extremely inconvenient hours; or
  • Communicate repeatedly in a manner not otherwise specified

Harassment which involves any of the forms of communication outlined above is considered a third-degree misdemeanor, but otherwise harassment is a summary offense. Harassment graded as a summary though may be enhanced to a third-degree misdemeanor if a person previously violates a protection-from-abuse order involving “the same victim, family or household member.”

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