Haddon Township Harassment Attorney
An extremely common offense, especially in the context of domestic violence, is harassment. While most harassment cases are heard in municipal courts like the one in Cherry Hill, Pennsauken or Voorhees, there are also instances where this charge is heard at the Camden County Superior Court. Either way, however, a conviction results in a record and other negative consequences, including the possibility of incarceration. To protect yourself against such an outcome, call our criminal defense firm at 856-662-8300. Our attorneys, including multiple former prosecutors, will put their 100 plus years of experience into action for you.
Charged With Harassment In Bellmawr NJ
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4, harassment is a petty disorderly persons offense, if, with the purpose to harass another, a person engages in one of three types of activities proscribed by law. This crime is limited to private annoyances, whereas the disorderly conduct offense is leveled at annoyances that have more of an impact on the general public. So the key elements that must be shown are that the person had an intent to harass another and that one of three activities described below has been committed. As a general note, though, profanity, in and of itself, is not enough to establish the offense.
The first type of proscribed behavior involves communications to another. These include anonymous communications, communications made at extremely inconvenient hours or in offensively coarse language or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm. To understand, how the offense works, we have to understand the definitions of communications, inconvenient hours, and offensively coarse language. Communications are defined as any form of communication made by any means, including, but not limited to any verbal or written communication, communications conveyed by any electronic communication device, which includes but is not limited to a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectric or photo-optical system, telephone, including a cordless, cellular or digital telephone, computer, video recorder, fax machine, pager, or any other means of transmitting voice or data and communications made by sign or gesture. Note, however, that “any other manner” should generally be interpreted to apply to modes of communicative harassment that intrude into an individual’s legitimate expectation of privacy. The Legislature did not intend to criminalize communications that are made in inoffensive language at convenient hours or in the communicator’s own name. What is offensively coarse language and what are extremely inconvenient hours will largely be ad hoc decisions made by the court based on certain factors such as age, gender, and to whom the call is being placed. For instance, it is unlikely that a call placed to 9-1-1, which is a 24-hour service, will ever be placed at an inconvenient hour, whereas a call made to a private residence at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday probably would be at an inconvenient hour. As for offensive language similarly what is offensive to one person may not be offensive to another, so gender, age, the setting in which the communication is made will all be regarded as factors in considering whether something is offensively coarse language.
Striking, Kicking, Offensive Touching
The second type of proscribed behavior for this harassment offense is striking, kicking, shoving, other offensive touching or threatening to do so. Encompassed within this subsection is behavior which does not amount to an assault. An assault requires the defendant to cause bodily injury to another or to attempt by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. For a harassment conviction, you do not need to show that there was bodily injury. The offensive touching or the threat thereof is sufficient for the conviction. Therefore, to summarize, the key differences between this offense and assault are two-fold. First, the offensive touching, without evidence of actual bodily injury may be sufficient for conviction. Secondly, the level of apprehension in the victim does not rise to the level of fear of imminent harm, but merely alarm or annoyance at the conduct of the defendant.
Alarming Conduct or Repeated Acts
The third type of proscribed harassment behavior is engaging in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committing acts with a purpose to alarm or seriously annoy another person. The purpose of the defendant, according to the courts, must go beyond mere annoyance. The defendant must have a purpose to alarm or seriously annoy. Like with communications, what is alarming conduct or repeated acts that are sufficient enough to give rise to a conviction will largely be an ad hoc decision for the court based on what the person has been doing.
Penalties & Sentencing In Waterford Harassment Cases
In most cases, as stated above, this crime gives rise to a petty disorderly persons offense which under N.J.S.A. 43-3 can lead to a fine of up to $500. However, there are a couple of circumstances in which this crime may result in jail time. For instance, it would become a crime of the fourth degree, if, in committing this offense, you were already serving a term of imprisonment or were on parole or probation as a result of a conviction of any indictable offense. Fourth-degree crimes can result in jail time of up to 18 months, along with a $10,000 fine.
Cherry Hill Harassment Lawyers
A harassment charge is nothing to overlook. It can cause all kinds of problems even providing a basis for a restraining order. No one needs these kinds of issues nor a criminal record that can unnecessarily complicate obtaining a job, mortgage, life insurance or a professional license. Do yourself the benefit of calling our firm for a free initial consultation.