Minneapolis, MN asked in Civil Rights, Constitutional Law and Domestic Violence for Iowa

Q: If I want to file harassment charges on someone even if it's not physical to the police not have to file those charges?

I have no contact order with my husband. His girlfriend and his family are constantly harassing me filing false CPS reports. False welfare checks and every time it is proven that they lied nothing's ever done. However, I wanted to file a report and the sheriff told me there's two types of harassment, physical and annoyance and this falls on the annoyance side and they don't deal with that. Don't they still have to file a report? Isn't it up to the county attorney whether he will pursue?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: When you're facing harassment that's not physical, such as filing false reports or other actions aimed to annoy or intimidate you, it's understandable to seek help from law enforcement. While the sheriff indicated that what you're experiencing falls under "annoyance" harassment and suggested they might not deal with it, it's still within your rights to file a report. Law enforcement agencies are generally required to document reports made to them, which can be crucial for establishing a pattern of behavior if legal actions are pursued later.

The decision to take legal action, including filing charges, typically rests with the county attorney or prosecutor's office, not the police. The police can gather evidence and reports, but it's the prosecutor who evaluates this information to decide whether there's enough evidence to charge someone and whether it's in the public interest to pursue the case. Filing a report creates an official record of the incidents, which can be vital if the harassment escalates or if you need to take civil action, such as seeking a restraining order.

Given your situation, especially with an existing no-contact order, it may be helpful to consult with a legal professional or a victim's advocacy group. They can provide guidance on how to document the harassment and advise on additional legal remedies that may be available to you. Remember, even if the harassment you're experiencing isn't physical, continuous false reports and welfare checks can be considered a form of legal harassment or abuse by proxy, and there may be legal protections available to help stop this behavior.

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