Harassment and Cyberbullying Crimes in New Jersey
The crime of harassment can include stalking, hate crimes, and cyberbullying. This occurs when one person acts in such a way with the direct intent to annoy, provoke, threaten, or otherwise cause another person emotional distress. Both state laws and federal laws have specific definitions of different ways harassment can occur.
New Jersey Intent Laws
For many crimes, all that the court may require from the prosecution is proof that the defendant indeed committed the act that has been deemed illegal. This is true regardless of the defendant’s intent in the action because it will have the same effect on the victim regardless of intent and may result in criminal charges.
Although this is true, in the case of harassment laws, prosecutors must prove that the defendant had “specific intent”, meaning that the person fully intended to harass or harm the victim. This means that any actions that unintentionally cause distress are not legally considered harassment.
As opposed to face to face communication, harassment can also occur where a person uses an electronic device such as a cell phone or computer to communicate threats to their victims, which can sometimes be done anonymously. Because of how prevalent the internet is today in all of our lives, it has become increasingly easy for attackers to harass and harm others through mediums such as email or social media.
This is often referred to as cyberbullying. Many states have written their own statutes in order to specifically deal with online harassment, seeing that this is a growing problem in our society. Some examples include the state of Virginia making it illegal to make threats of criminal activity or even obscene suggestions over the internet.
Harassment is recognized by states as both misdemeanors as well as felonies. Often, states will punish first-time harassment offenses as misdemeanors yet punish repeated harassment convictions as felonies. Some states also identify specific types of harassment as a more severe crime and deserving of a more severe punishment.
Penalties for harassment can include jail time, fines, and court-ordered psychological counseling. Many times it is determined within a sentence that the defendant may not contact the victim in any way. Violating a no-contact provision can result in new charges and a possible revoking of the probation or parole of a person convicted of a harassment crime.
Consult With a New Jersey Harassment Lawyer Now
Harassment laws can be extremely complex and many times it is up to individual courts and state legislation to make certain decisions in specific circumstances. This is because these laws have been put in place relatively recently and remain largely untested within appellate courts, making it difficult to predict how these laws will be applied in different courts.
It is in your best interest to consult an experienced lawyer if you are facing harassment charges. John W. Tumelty understands the intricacies of these new laws as well as how the courts may interpret them. A good lawyer can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case, seek dismissal or a reduction in the charges. Contact the law offices of John W. Tumelty today and protect your rights.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.