Children as young as preschool quickly pick up the art of teasing and mocking each other for fun. For kindergarten students in Brick to elementary school students in Red Bank, teasing can be a part of growing up. By the time your child has transitioned from middle school to high school, teasing and bullying may even be commonplace. When does the teasing at a New Jersey school cross the line and become illegal harassment? Has your child been accused of harassing another child? If so, call Villani & DeLuca to speak about your options.
Juvenile Harassment Laws in NJ
The NJ harassment law is a short law that covers many different types of harassment. Schools in Toms River, Long Branch and all over Monmouth and Ocean County have adopted a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying or harassment of one minor by another or group of other adolescents.
New Jersey's harassment law applies to juveniles and adult offenders and is set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4. Harassment is usually a petty disorderly persons offense and can involve alarming conduct or troublesome verbal or written communication during hours deemed unreasonable by parents of the minor in question. These communications and conduct, in order to be considered harassment, would be linked to unacceptable language and physical violence on the level of hitting, kicking or otherwise touching another minor child. The days of fights on the Asbury Park school playgrounds being quietly handled by teachers are over. Now, once your school age child verbally or physically bullies or harasses his classmate in Toms River or Point Pleasant, this form of physical or verbal exchange is considered harassment and is treated as a juvenile criminal offense.
Additionally, if your child is already on probation for another juvenile criminal charge, and then harasses another adolescent, he or she will be charged with fourth degree harassment. This is a much more serious offense.
Legal Penalties for Juvenile Harassment
If charges of harassment are brought against your adolescent, the courts will have a hearing to decide if your child is guilty of the crime of harassment. For the most part, in Monmouth and Ocean County courts, if it is a first time harassment offense there is no incarceration time. However, the judge can still order counseling sessions and/or community service for the minor. Additionally, your son or daughter can be asked to make restitution of a varied sort to the minor he or she harassed or bullied, as determined by the court. As a parent, you can be asked to pay a fine for this charge and even be required by the judge to attend counseling sessions with your minor child, as family counseling or separate counseling for you as the parent.
Parents should be aware that if your child has a history of harassment or other criminal behavior, and they are found guilty of the current harassment charge, they can be facing time in a juvenile detention center.
Intent to Harass
The attorneys at Villani & DeLuca are experienced when it comes to determining how best to defend your child who is charged of malicious harassment toward another minor. It can be difficult to ascertain whether one young child truly meant to verbally or physically harass or bully another student, or whether it was an issue of teasing that got out of hand. As stated, the line between teasing and harassment is a very fine line, one that you as a parent should not have to walk alone if your child is faced with a harassment charge. Additionally, if your minor child is accused of being part of a group of students who are harassing another young child, you would want your own representation to best defend your child's interest. Residents of Ocean and Monmouth County can contact Villani & DeLuca today for legal help. Let us meet the best interests of your adolescent and provide you with experienced legal guidance.