Charged with Harassment in Bridgewater, New Jersey?
Have you been charged with harassment? Cyber-harassment? If so, you are not alone. These types of allegations have become one of the more common offenses we see litigated in courts throughout New Jersey, including Somerset and Hunterdon County. These offenses are considered criminal in nature in New Jersey and if convicted, the potential penalties are severe. In addition, if the allegations that form the basis for the harassment charge are considered an “act of domestic violence” then the individual could also find themselves being served with a temporary restraining order. To make matters worse, pursuant to the New Jersey Bail Reform Act, if the allegations are considered an act of domestic violence, the individual runs the risk of spending up to at least 48 hours in the Somerset County Jail, pending Pretrial Services Interview. As you can see, these types of cases have a lot of moving pieces and what started out as a simple argument or a back and forth on social media could turn into a nightmare.
Do I need a Lawyer for a Harassment Charge? Where do I have to go to Court?
Yes, these are serious criminal offenses. Harassment is considered a petty disorderly persons offense (harassment). All harassment charges will be litigated in the local municipal court in the municipality where the incident happened. If convicted, the individual would be facing up to thirty (30) days in the Somerset County Jail and a fine up to $500. Unlike harassment, cyber-harassment is considered a fourth degree indictable offense (felony). If convicted, an individual faces up to eighteen months in a State Prison and a fine up to $10,000. Since cyber-harassment is considered an indictable offense (felony) the matter must be transferred to the Somerset County Superior Court, which is located in Somerville for disposition.
Can Someone Get an Order of Protection for Harassment Allegations?
Yes it can. Pursuant to NJSA 2C:25-19, harassment is considered one of the enumerated crimes under the domestic violence prevention act. As such, anybody who is a victim of an act of domestic violence, in this case, harassment, may petition the court for a temporary restraining order (TRO). This order is separate and apart from the potential underlying criminal charges. Anyone served with a TRO must appear in the Somerset County Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part for a final restraining order (FRO) hearing. During this hearing, it will be the victim’s, also known as the plaintiff’s burden to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that they are not only the victim of an act of domestic violence but in need of a final order to prevent future acts of domestic violence. These hearings are basically mini trials, whereby both parties may be called upon to testify and as such, would be subject to cross-examination. For more information on restraining order hearings in New Jersey, please click the link.
Am I Entitled to Bail on a Harassment Charge in New Jersey?
Maybe. If the allegations are considered an act of domestic violence, then the Defendant will more likely than not be issued the criminal complaint on what is known as a “warrant”. If that is to occur, the Defendant must be taken to the Somerset County Jail so that they can be interviewed by pretrial services. Based on their evaluation, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office must decide whether to release the Defendant upon conditions or file for a Detention Hearing. If they file for a Detention Hearing, that means that they are seeking to convince the Judge that the Defendant must be detained in the county jail, without bail, pending trial. These types of hearing can and always should be contested.
Facing Domestic Violence Harassment Charge in Raritan NJ
As you can see from reading above harassment and cyber-harassment charges can become very complex matters. So what started out as a heated texting battle between loved ones can quickly turn into a nightmare. If you have unfortunately been charged with harassment, cyber-harassment, terroristic threats, domestic violence assault or served with a restraining order in Somerset or Hunterdon County, the Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help. Our attorneys have dedicated their entire careers to defending those accused of serious acts of domestic violence in courts throughout New Jersey, including courts in towns like Readington, Hillsborough, Bound Brook, Manville, Franklin, Bernards, Bedminster, Clinton, Flemington and Bridgewater. To set up a free initial consultation today, please contact our Bridgewater office at 908-533.1064 or you can try contacting us online.