Defending NJ 2C:33-4. Harassment.
After you read the following NJ criminal statute (harassment) you may decide that you need the help of a lawyer, or need a legal interpretation of how this statute applies to your case. The firm of Villani & DeLuca has experienced criminal lawyers with over 20 years of experience, including a former municipal prosecutor. Call the number above for a free 24×7 phone consultation or read more about the harassment charge.
What Constitutes Harassment Under NJ Law?
Harassment can be used to describe a lot of different types of behavior. A person can be charged with harassment under 2C:33-4 if he has the intent to harass and he does one of the following: (1) makes or causes to be made communication at extremely inconvenient times, or in offensive language or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; (2) subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or (3) engages in any other course of alarming conduct or repeatedly commits acts with the purpose to alarm or seriously alarm another. In general, continued behavior that is overly annoying, threatening or at unreasonable times may be considered harassment in New Jersey.
Proving Harassment in New Jersey
There are a few elements or alternative elements that the prosecutor must prove when seeking a harassment charge against a defendant. First, the prosecutor must show intent to harass the victim and that the defendant made one or more anonymous communications, or communications at extremely inconvenient hours, or used offensive, coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm.
In the alternative, the prosecutor may prove that the defendant threatened to, or actually did, strike, kick, shove, or offensively touch the victim with the intent to harass the victim. Yet another alternative that the prosecutor may prove is that the defendant engaged in a continuous or repetitive course of alarming conduct with the intent to harass the victim. The behavior exhibited from the defendant can range from a single, outrageous contact to repetitive behavior that causes alarm, so the prosecutor has a few different ways of proving the offense occurred to obtain a conviction.
Defenses to Harassment
If you are charged with harassment, it does not necessarily mean you will be convicted. There may be some defenses available to you, but each case is unique and will require individual attention from an attorney. For example, if the prosecutor cannot prove that you did not have the intent to harass, he will not have a case. It may be a defense that you were trying to locate your children if the victim was an ex-spouse or the mother or father of your child. Communications that are necessary to obtain this type of information may not be considered harassment when looked at by a judge. As previously mentioned, each case is unique and will have to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis by an experienced New Jersey criminal law attorney.
Penalties for a Conviction of Harassment
A person who is convicted of harassment will usually face petty disorderly persons penalties. Petty disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey carry punishment of up to $500, possible community service, possible jail time and other fines. If the offense happened while you are incarcerated, you will be charged as if you committed a crime of the fourth degree. You will face up to a $10,000 fine, up to 18 months in jail, possible probation and other fines and penalties. Do not just plead guilty to these charges without consulting an experienced defense attorney. Showing intent in a crime may be difficult for a prosecutor, so do not make it easy by taking a plea. Call Villani & DeLuca today for a free initial consultation.
NJ Statute: 2C:33-4. Harassment.
Except as provided in subsection e., a person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, with purpose to harass another, 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.
A communication under subsection a. may be deemed to have been made either at the place where it originated or at the place where it was received.
d.(Deleted by amendment, P.L.2001, c.443).
e.A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if, in committing an offense under this section, he was serving a term of imprisonment or was on parole or probation as the result of a conviction of any indictable offense under the laws of this State, any other state or the United States.
L.1978, c.95; amended 1983, c.334; 1990, c.87, s.2; 1995, c.211, s.2; 1998, c.17, s.4; 2001, c.443, s.3.
AKA: NJ Criminal Charge 2C:33-4, Violation 2C:33-4, Offense 2C:33-4
Disclaimer: A copy of this statute has been provided for your information. This wording was current from the NJ website lis.njleg.state.nj.us as of August 2012.