New Jersey Defense Attorney Handling Harassment Charges
Former Prosecutor in NJ
Reality is that relationships between people can take a turn and even become adversarial. The situation can escalate to the point that a criminal harassment complaint and/or arrest has occurred. The penalties imposed as a result of a harassment conviction can be significant and no one wants a criminal conviction on their record. The criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are experienced in defending harassment charges and our attorneys are prepared to assist you. A criminal lawyer with our office is available statewide including Ocean County, Union County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Somerset County, Hudson County, Essex County, and Mercer County, to speak to you if you have been arrested or charged with the offense of harassment. You may also want to consult our Domestic Violence and Restraining Order pages for relevant information.
New Jersey’s Harassment law is set forth under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4. In this regard, 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.
Harassment becomes an indictable offense of the fourth degree if the harassment occurs while the defendant is on parole or probation for an indictable criminal offense.
When an individual is arrested or charged with harassment based on annoying or alarming conduct, the question that is invariably encountered is whether or not the conduct was just insensitive or actually prohibited harassment. This line can sometimes be grey and, as a result, New Jersey’s Courts have provided some helpful principals on the subject. The first principal to keep in mind is the fact that “intent” is a necessary element of New Jersey’s Harassment Statute; that is, it must be shown that accused made the communication or caused the communication to be made for the purpose of harassing the victim. See State v. Hoffman, 149 N.J. 564, 695 A.2d 236 (1997). It should also be kept in mind that New Jersey’s Courts have found that profanity alone will not constitute an intent to harass. Second, in order for a communication to be sufficiently annoying, it must “disturb, irritate, or bother” the victim to a consequential degree. See Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 713 A.2d 390 (1998). New Jersey’s Courts have found that it is not the purpose of the statute to criminalize communications made in inoffensive language at convenient hours or in the communicator’s own name. Factors like gender, age and occupation of the person to whom the communication was directed, are relevant in determining whether a communication is severe enough to give rise to a valid harassment offense.
The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall defend individuals charged under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4, New Jersey’s Harassment Statute. Every case of “harassment” is fact sensitive and the defense attorneys at our office are well aware of the intricacies of a harassment complaint. Please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free initial consultation with an attorney of our law firm if you are in need of legal assistance. A lawyer with the firm is ready to assist you in your Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Union County, Ocean County, Essex County, Hudson County, Mercer County, and Somerset County case.