Arrested and Charged with Harassment in Wall Township?
Over the years harassment and cyber-harassment charges have been on the rise and more often than not, these types of charges tend to involve some form of a domestic dispute between loved ones. Unfortunately, when the harassment incident involves loved ones and the dispute is classified as an “act of domestic violence” things can quickly go from bad to worse. Since both harassment and cyber harassment could be considered acts of domestic violence pursuant to the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, the victim in the case would have the right to seek what is known as a temporary restraining order (TRO). If that is to occur, then the individual would not only be facing potential felony criminal offenses but would also be facing a permanent order of protection. Although the underlying facts do overlap, the criminal charges are separate and apart from the temporary restraining order. Both situations will be litigated in two totally different courts and the potential consequences, each of which are serious in their own right drastically differ. That is why we that if you have unfortunately found yourself in this type of situation that we strongly urge that you contact an experienced Monmouth County criminal defense attorney immediately. What at first glance seems like a heated argument could quickly escalate into a nightmare in a blink of an eye. To speak to one of the Wall Township criminal defense lawyers on staff at Keith Oliver Criminal Law today about your options, please contact our office directly at 732.858.6959.
What is the Bail for a Harassment Charge in NJ?
In addition to the potential felony criminal record and the potential permanent restraining order, anyone charged with either harassment or cyber-harassment could find themselves a victim of New Jersey’s Bail Reform Act. Under bail reform, if the incident in question is classified as an act of domestic violence, then the individual in question could and more likely than not would be detained for at least twenty-four hours so that pretrial services could conduct their evaluation. Based on the underlying facts of the case and pretrial services evaluation, the Monmouth County prosecutor’s office could seek to file for detention. If that is to occur, that means that they are seeking to convince a judge that the individual must be detained, pretrial without bail. All of these decisions will most likely occur at the individual’s first appearance, which is know as their Central Judicial Processing Hearing. More information on these hearings, please click the link.
Is Harassment a Felony in NJ?
Harassment is considered a petty disorderly persons offense, which is the lowest level misdemeanor offense in New Jersey. However, cyber-harassment, which as you will see below basically occurs when an individual uses some for of online communication, whether it be through social media or not to commit the crime of harassment is considered a fourth degree felony offense. All harassment charges will be litigated through the Wall Township Municipal Court, which is located at 2700 Allaire Road. But all cyber-harassment charges, since they are considered indictable offenses (felony) must be transferred to the Monmouth County Superior Court, which is located at 71 Monument Street in Freehold for disposition. Remember, this is separate and apart from a temporary restraining order if that is in fact granted as well. The TRO will always be litigated in the Monmouth County Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part. Here is a breakdown of the potential penalties an individual faces if convicted of harassment in New Jersey.
Harassment (NJSA 2C:33-4)
- $500 Fine
- 30 Days in Jail
- Criminal Record
Cyber-Harassment (NJSA 2C:33-4)
- $10,000 Fine
- 18 Months in Prison
- Felony Criminal Record
What do the Courts Consider as Harassment?
Harassment charges will be governed by NJSA 2C:33-4. It in essence has three separate subsection in which an individual can be charged under. They are as follows:
- NJSA 2C:33-4(a), which requires the state to show that the Defendant made, or caused 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.
- NJSA 2C:33-4(b), which requires the prosecution to prove that the Defendant subjected another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatened to do so.
- NJSA 2C:33-4(c), which requires the state to prove that the Defendant engaged in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.
Under each of these subsections the prosecution must prove that the Defendant committed the underlying act purposely. This can prove to be extremely problematic at times. The prosecution must prove it was the Defendant’s conscious objective to cause such result. This is a very high burden for the state. For example, if the excessive messages were sent with the intent to rekindle a relationship, the prosecution might not be able to meet its burden.
Cyber-Harassment charges will be governed by NJSA 2C:33-4.1. In order to be convicted under this offense, the prosecution must prove the following:
- That the Defendant, while making a communication in an online capacity via any electronic device or through a social networking site and with the purpose to harass another:
- Threatened to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person; or
- Knowingly sent, posted, commented, requested, suggested, or proposed any lewd, indecent, or obscene material to or about a person with the intent to emotionally harm a reasonable person or place a reasonable person in fear of physical or emotional harm to his person; or
- Threatened to commit any crime against the person or the person’s property.
Served with Restraining Order for Harassing Text Messages
By far one of the most common methods of obtaining a temporary restraining order in New Jersey is by way of a domestic violence harassment charge. Typically the harassment charges involves some form of aggressive or excessive electronic communication, whether it be text messages, Facebook messages, emails or Instagram posts. If the victim of the harassment is classified as a “victim” of an “act of domestic violence” then they are well within their rights to seek a temporary restraining order. A temporary restraining order (TRO) is exactly what it sounds like, temporary in nature. In order for the TRO to become a permanent order of protection a final restraining order hearing must take place. During this hearing it will be the victim’s burden of proof to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that not only are they a victim of domestic violence but that they are in need of an order of protection in order to protect their safety and avoid future acts of domestic violence. For more information restraining orders, please checkout our Monmouth County Domestic Violence practice area by clicking the link.
Need Lawyer for Harassment Charge in Wall NJ
Keith Oliver Criminal Law is a Monmouth County based criminal defense firm, comprised of attorneys who have dedicated their careers to defending those accused of crimes like harassment, cyber-harassment, simple assault, disorderly conduct, aggravated assault, driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana and those served with a restraining order in Wall Township and elsewhere throughout the county. Our attorneys are well aware of what a conviction for harassment let alone a lengthy prison term can do to someone’s life. As such, we are dedicated to aggressively litigating these types of cases to assure our clients the best possible outcome. To schedule a free initial consultation today, please contact our office directly at 732.858.6959 or you can try contacting us online.