Howell NJ Harassment Defense Attorneys
Harassment is an extraordinarily common term, often used to describe conduct ranging from bullying to domestic abuse. With the increasing use of social media platforms, email, and text messaging, there are countless opportunities for harassment to occur, many times accompanied by documentation of threatening words or harassing statements. However, there are many instances deemed “harassment” that do not necessarily constitute harassment under New Jersey law. It is critical to understand the nature of criminal harassment when faced with allegations of this nature.
The statute that outlines harassment offenses can be found in section N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. Under this statute, a harassment charge must fulfill a number of elements, the first of which is “alarming or annoying conduct.” These terms are considered vague, leaving much room for interpretation. As a result, a number of significant cases have further elaborated upon what constitutes prohibited harassment under the law.
For instance, State v. Hoffman (1997), established “intent” as a necessary element of a harassment offense, meaning that the conduct must be committed with the purpose of harassing the victim. It is often a very effective defense to challenge the State’s case in this regard because it can be difficult to prove that communication was intended to cause alarm or annoyance. Further, in cases involving a verbal form of harassment, it can be very difficult for the State to prove that the event occurred at all, relying solely on the word of the victim or another party who was present at the time of the alleged offense.
If you have been accused of harassment, you may be facing collateral consequences such as a restraining order. Often, these cases arise during divorce proceedings or in other strained relationships when emotions are running high. At Chamlin, Uliano & Walsh, our diversified team of attorneys can handle each and every component of your case, as we each specialize in a different realm of the law in order to provide unparalleled representation to our clients and their families. Having served Monmouth County for over 50 years, we have the knowledge, resources, and dedication to assist you during these difficult times. To speak with one of our talented attorneys today, contact our West Long Branch offices at 732-440-3950. Answers can serve as your first step in the right direction.
Harassment in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4
The New Jersey Criminal Code addresses harassment in section N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4, stating that a person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense of harassment if he:
a. Makes, or causes to be made, a communication or communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
b. Subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or
c. Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.
A charge for harassment is enhanced to an indictable felony of the fourth degree if the harassment occurs while the defendant is on parole or probation for an indictable criminal offense.
Penalties for Harassment in New Jersey
As stated above, a typical charge for harassment is graded as a petty disorderly persons offense, which carries a sentence to serve up to 90 days in the county jail, as well as a fine of up to $500. However, a charge for harassment is enhanced to a fourth-degree felony if the defendant is on parole or probation for an indictable criminal offense when the harassment occurs. If convicted of fourth-degree harassment, you may be sentenced to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison. These potential penalties are notwithstanding any additional charges or a restraining order that may arise in circumstances of domestic violence. A restraining order will be adjudicated in the Family Division of the Superior Court. Although a restraining order is not considered a criminal offense, a violation of a Final Restraining Order may result in criminal charges for contempt.
Contact Monmouth County NJ Harassment Attorneys Today
The potential for a criminal record, damaged reputation, and even negative implications for arrangements such as child custody can be extremely frightening. Our attorneys can help you navigate through the complex and often intimidating legal process in pursuit of a positive resolution. Contact our West Long Branch office at 732-440-3950 for immediate assistance.