What Is Considered Harassment Under NJ Law?
Harassment (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4) is a blanket term that describes a wide range of behaviors. In all cases, there must be an intent to harass accompanied by some combination of the following behaviors:
- Making communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or with offensively coarse language, or in any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm.
- Subjecting another to striking, kicking, shoving or other offensive touching, or threatening to do so.
- Engaging in any other type of conduct of a repeated nature with the purpose of causing alarm or serious annoyance.
Essentially, any repeated behaviors that are intended to be threatening, excessively annoying or that happens at unreasonable hours could be considered harassment in New Jersey.
What is Required to Prove Harassment?
The prosecution in a harassment case must prove that the defendant’s actions were done with intent. In other words, that they knowingly bothered or threatened the offended party. Additionally, they must prove that at least one of the previously mentioned behaviors occurred, such as the usage of offensively coarse language, striking or continuously threatening behavior. Note that harassment can be proven based on a single extreme incident or by showing a repeated pattern of behavior meant to cause alarm.
Penalties for Harassment
- A majority of harassment charges are classed as petty disorderly persons offenses, which can carry penalties of up to 30 days in jail and fines of up to $500, as well as other potential penalties like community service. Additionally, if convicted, your harassment charge will show up on your criminal record.
- If you are on probation or parole for any indictable offense under state law, your charge can be bumped up to a fourth degree offense, even if the harassment charge is unrelated. A fourth degree offense carries penalties of up to 18 months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Cyber harassment (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4.1) also carries stricter penalties, as it is usually defined as a fourth degree offense under NJ State law.
- Also note that harassment can be considered a type of domestic violence depending on the circumstances.
If you are facing harassment charges in New Jersey, it is important that you hire an experienced attorney who will help you understand your rights and options. Contact Schneider Freiberger, P.C. today to discuss your case and what we can do to defend you.