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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    2

    Default Harassment and Trespass by Neighbors

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Washington.
    I have been having trouble with a neighbor for a couple of years now. The daughter is maybe 13-14 and her friend (I'll call Boy) is about the same age. The daughter's father is a sherrif deputy.
    This started a couple yers ago with hang-up phone calls. I can trace one back to them as they goofed and forgot to block the caller ID. The kids also would ring the doorbell and then hide. I could never really catch them at this, but a couple of times the daughter would apologize for her friends doing that.
    The kids play ball in their front yard and always overthrow the ball into my yard. Same with the back yard, which has a 6 foot chain-link fence.

    Two Xmas's ago, I go up early Xmas morning to go to family breakfast. We had a horrible winter and tons of snow. I had 6 foot high snow berms. When I went outside to shovel the new snow, I found that someone had created massive tunnels through the snow berms and pushed a lot of old hard snow chunks onto my driveway. Footprints were to the neighbors house. I tried shoveling this heavy snow and had a lot of trouble. I saw that the neighbors were indeed home so went over to their house to ask them to please respect my property and stay out of my yard. I explained the issue with the snow on my driveway. The parents said their kids didn't do it. I said there were footprints. The dad (the sherrif deputy) went over to my house to check it out. I stayed at thier house and was talking to mom and 2 kids. I told them that this was not the first time I have had issues with the kids and then playfully I waggled my finger at the oldest daughter and said "you know what I mean." The mom attacked me, put both hands on my shoulders and pushed me up against the door while sreamming "f***ing bitch" in my face (in front of her 2 kids!). I told her 3 times to take her hands off me. When she finally did, I turned and walked out the door.
    The dad did not believe me and said I was being melodramatic. He also did not believe the phone calls nor bell ringing incidents and wanted to know if I had proof. I erroneusly did not report the incident by the wife (my bad!).
    Since then, things have gotten even worse. The kids continue to throw the ball into my yard. It often even hits the house. I have since put locks on the gates to the back yard as one day I came home and the gate was open and the dog was out.
    A year ago I tried to chat with the kids to ask them again (for the bazillionth time) to not play in my yard. The Boy was quite rude so I gave up. A few days later, the dad left me a message to say I was never to talk to his kids again. I tried to contact him to tell him I never talk to the kids unless they are trespassing in my yard -- but could never catch him.
    A few weeks later, their ball went in my back yard and while the dad was standing right there (in my yard), the daughter rattled the locked gate. I was sick so ignored the issue. The ball was later gone from my yard so I assume they climbed the fence to get it.
    Two days ago, I was out painting a new shed in my back yard. The kids were in the front (and yup, the ball was constantly going into my yard). As soon as I went outside, they decided to play football in their back yard. They don't even try to keep it out of my yard. The daughter stood 2 feet from the fence trying to catch a football that of course when into my yard. I threw it back over the fence and told the kids "If it comes over here again, it's mine." I really feel as it the kids are doing this on purpose -- because they can.
    Five minutes later, dad comes whipping outside and starts yelling at me about why would I take these little kids (yup, he said "little kids") football. He threatened to arrest me for theft. And then said he was going to get "an order" against me for talking to his kids. He would not listen to anything I tried to say, so I just brushed him off like a pesky fly and said "go away." And I went back to my painting.
    Whew -- so here's my questions.
    I feel threatened by the dad as he is law enforcement. He is trying to intimidate/bully me. I feel as if I have not done anything wrong at all.
    I also am uneasy about other things that the kids could/would do. I work, so am not home all the time. Last year when school let out, several houses had their newpaper boxes pulled up and thrown a block away; hmm - the neighbor's was not. I'm fearful that this is escalating -- and the kids (and apparently the parents too) think they can get away with anything.
    What can I do? I have told the kids a bazillion times to stay out of my yard. I have told the parent a couple of times too.
    thank you for any advice!
    Robyn

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    1,381

    Default Re: Harassment and Trespass by Neighbors

    Okay, Robyn. It maybe be that you were a little melodramatic at first with the snow incident, but it seems that the father is the biggest problem on your plate.

    Ignore the kids for now. Let them throw the ball over the fence and come back and get it. There's a psychological trick to play on children that if you don't respond, they get bored. It works fairly well. Now, on top of that, bring a video camera outside, every time you go out. That way if they do trespass and break or ruin something, then you will have evidence.

    Trespassing on residential property is a petty crime, so it's not a very big thing to go for. Wait until they make a mistake by ruining something. Then, instead of going to the neighbors with your complaint, go to an attorney and talk to them about it. You will probably have a pretty good case in small claims court. There's something about receiving a piece of paper and having the words "served" said to your face that makes people act more like adults. And the neighbors are probably gonna try and settle out of court.

    Now, the dad is an officer. And not just for the city, but for the county. Go to your city's precinct and ask to speak to an officer because you feel that you have been "harassed and wronged." Those words always get a big response from officers. Especially when you're a woman. Ask the officer if you can file a complaint against the officer. Most likely you can, and you should. A police officer represents their respective jurisdiction whether they are on duty or not. For as long as they are employed, the have taken an oath "to protect and to serve..."

    Stop the confrontations with the neighbors, it's only gonna escalate things. Ignore them. Let them be instigators, just don't be one yourself. Try and live by the right so it will be easier to prove their wrong.

    Brendan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Harassment and Trespass by Neighbors

    Thanks for the info, Brendan.

    One thing you said was to try to video tape the trepassing. I have thought about that, but am concerned that the dad will really come after me for filming the kids. Remember, he doesn't even want me to speak to them.

    I don't want any confrontation with dad (he's wacky). Is there some sort of law or something that would get me in trouble for taking their picture of them trepassing in my yard? I would think I can take pictures of my yard -- and anything/anyone in it -- because it is my yard.

    thanks again.
    Robyn

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    1,381

    Default Re: Harassment and Trespass by Neighbors

    Quote Quoting msmouse7
    View Post
    I don't want any confrontation with dad (he's wacky). Is there some sort of law or something that would get me in trouble for taking their picture of them trepassing in my yard? I would think I can take pictures of my yard -- and anything/anyone in it -- because it is my yard.
    Ahh, yeah. See that's where things get tricky. However, trespassing is a tort. I don't see why you wouldn't be able to set up a "video camera system" to monitor your own yard. In fact, I still would do it. Just don't film anything but your yard and the objects that enter it.

    The part where the situation gets sticky is when in the definition of trespassing is thrown into the picture. That definition includes the wording "without a lawful excuse." I would think that a reasonable excuse could be "well, the ball went onto their land." The judge would probably just dismiss the case for a petty crime.

    If you can record more than once, that they have thrown the ball over the fence and you can record the time of when it happened then you can probably quash that statement.

    Further, I would think you have an argument that they went into your backyard, with a fence, without any authorization from you. Fence's are constructed for one of two purposes: to keep something in, or keep something out.

    So Criminal Trespassing in the 2nd Degree (what we're looking at as governed by RCW 9A.52.080) is what I would explain to your neighbor. Write him a letter and mail it to him, email it to him, or just walk over there and put it on his doorstep. Explain to him that his children are committing a misdemeanor (cite the RCW) and a conviction carries a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in county jail and a $1000 fine. Also explain to him that if he doesn't stop his children from doing so in the future, then you will be forced to take legal action.

    If you feel that this has already been said, then go find an attorney. A good handful of them will offer a free consultation. Talk to them about that. An experienced attorney will be able to help more with your specific case than anything online can. I don't know exactly where you are, but Jeff Goldstein out of Yelm, offers a free consultation. His phone number is 866-678-1382.

    Ask him this question during the consultation: "What should I do next?"

    He'll probably say something like "hire me." Just worded very professionally. Don't buy that unless he gives you information about how to investigate your case during the consultation.

    In my experience a lawyer is only as good as their consultation provides. So If you feel that the consultation didn't go smoothly, then dump the attorney and get a new one.

    That's my two cents. And a few more dollars. Haha. Hope all works out. And maybe let me know what you do with the case.

    Brendan

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