New Jersey Harassment Charges Attorney (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4)
Harassment is one of the most commonly charged offenses in New Jersey municipal court. It is a petty “disorderly persons” offense. A person commits harassment if, with the purpose to harass another, he or she does one of the following:
- 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.
- Subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so.
- Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.
As a New Jersey criminal defense attorney will advise you, the charge may be elevated to a fourth degree crime if, in committing the offense, the person was serving a term of imprisonment or was on parole or probation as the result of a conviction of any indictable offense.
A person convicted of harassment is subject to a fine of up to $500 plus payment to victims’ compensation funds of approximately $125. Payment of $100.00 to safe neighborhood fund. A jail sentence of up to 30 days is also possible. Loss of driving privileges pursuant to NJSA 2C: 43-2(c ) and possible domestic violence surcharge of $100.00 (if harassment was charge under domestic violence scenerio)
A conviction for harassment requires that the conduct be part of a course of conduct or that the conduct was committed repetitively. In addition, the person must have had the purpose to harass. Therefore, a couple of late night angry phone calls in the course of an argument probably do not constitute harassment.
Harassment can be committed by any communication method, including telephone, email, text message, letter, or in-person conversation.
The harassment statute is very general and vague. For example, the terms “offensively coarse” and “seriously annoy” can be difficult to define. The parties involved and the location where the alleged conduct took place is very important. For example, joking around among young people in a bar may be perceived differently than threats against a senior citizen. Although the statute’s general language gives police broad leeway when deciding whether to charge a defendant, it also gives your New Jersey criminal defense lawyer opportunities to strategize an effective defense.