New Jersey Harassment Law
We represent clients charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4; New Jersey harassment complaints filed in central New Jersey municipalities including East Brunswick, New Brunswick, Woodbridge, Edison, Old Bridge, North Brunswick, South Brunswick, South River, Monroe and Sayreville.
New Jersey Harassment, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4, is one of the most frequently charged offenses in municipal court.
It is a petty disorderly persons offense that may be committed in three ways.
First, causing or making anonymous communication or communication at inconvenient hours or making communication in offensively coarse language, or in any other manner likely to cause alarm with purpose to harass another person.
Second, if a person subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching or threatens a person to do so with the purpose of harassing the other person.
Finally, a person who engages in any other course of alarming conduct or repeatedly committed acts with the purpose of alarming or annoying another.
Under New Jersey harassment law, two enhancement provisions are added that may elevate the offense to a fourth degree crime.
First, defendant acted with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group because of race, color, religion, gender, handicap, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
Second, defendant at the time was serving a term of imprisonment or was on parole or probation as the result of a conviction for an indictable offense.
We represent clients charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4; New Jersey harassment indictments filed in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Somerset County, Essex County, Union County, and Hudson County.
Exposure for Disorderly Persons Offense Only
So long as the charge is not a fourth degree indictable crime, a person convicted of this offense is subject to a fine of up to $500 plus assessments to Victims of Crime Compensation Board and to the Safe Neighborhood Services Fund of approximately $125.
Although a person convicted of this offense who has not been previously convicted of an offense is entitled to a presumption of non-incarceration, defendant may be sentenced up to 30 days in jail.
If a motor vehicle was used in the course of committing the offense, the court may suspend the defendant's driver's license up to two years.
If the defendant holds a public office, a conviction may result in forfeiture of office.
Expungement of Disorderly Persons Offense Only
Provided defendant has not been convicted of more than three disorderly or petty disorderly persons offenses, or defendant has not been convicted of an indictable offense, he or she may have their conviction expunged five years after sentence is carried out.
Statute of Limitations for Disorderly Persons Offense Only
Prosecution must be commenced within 1 year after the offense is committed.
Prosecution commences when a warrant or other process such as a summons or complaint is issued.
Strategy for Disorderly Persons Offense Only
To constitute an offense, the conduct must be part of a course of conduct or must have been committed repeatedly.
Hence, an isolated incident may not constitute an offense and should be raised as a defense to the charge.
In addition, if the offense is not serious at all then an application may be made to the court to dismiss the charge as a de minimis infraction.
The best case result for any type of charge is dismissal - no record and no fine - although more often than not it is not possible to procure such a favorable result for this offense.
If a dismissal is not attainable then consider court mediation unless there is a companion charge of domestic violence whereby mediation is prohibited.
If court mediation does not work then the next best possible outcome would be a plea to a municipal ordinance, which will preclude one from sustaining the stigma that an offense attaches to one's record.
However, defendant will be fined by the Court, although fines for municipal ordinances are lower than are fines for disorderly persons offenses.
If the offense is serious bordering on stalking, defendant should seek counseling or some type of psychological treatment, which will serve as a powerful mitigating factor at sentencing before the Judge.
Did You Know
Courts usually set aside New Jersey harassment charges when the underlying complaint is domestic violence so as not to trivialize the domestic violence law.
If you have any questions for a NJ criminal defense lawyer about a New Jersey harassment charge, please do not hesitate to contact us.