An arrest for stalking or harassment can be very serious. Stalking and harassment allegations can lead to a restraining order. Conviction may be a disorderly persons or indictable charge, depending on the circumstances, both of which can have life-changing consequences.
Stalking cases are often less dramatic than they are depicted in movies. In some cases, a domestic dispute can turn into a stalking charge, or a spurned partner may have gone too far. Stalking is defined as a course of conduct in which someone repeatedly or continuously threatens, observes, communicates with, or interferes with another's property or privacy. The interference must cause a reasonable person to have significant distress or cause someone to reasonably fear for their safety under the law.
To be convicted of stalking, someone must have acted at least twice on different occasions. This form of harassment usually comes in the form of persistent phone calls, emails, letters, or gifts, observing the victim in a way to cause them fear, or making threats. In , stalking may be a second, third, or fourth degree crime.
There are many possible ways to defend yourself against a stalking charge. In many cases, a victim mistook the other's intentions as a threat. Your attorney may be able to get your charge downgraded to harassment, which is a petty disorderly persons charge (misdemeanor).
Harassment is a charge that is similar to stalking but less serious. This petty disorderly persons crime is defined under the law as:
While it is usually a disorderly persons crime, harassment can become a fourth degree indictable offense (felony) if the harassment occurs while the defendant is on probation or parole for an indictable offense.
To be convicted of harassment, you must not only have committed the harassing act, you must also have had the intent to harass. courts have upheld that profanity or thoughtless words alone is not enough to show intent to harass, but the law is not precisely defined, as "annoying" or "alarming" can mean many things.
If you are convicted of harassment, you can face up to six months in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.
Are you facing a charge of harassment or stalking? Conviction can have very serious ramifications. Along with jail or prison time, you may be looking at high fines and a blemish on your permanent criminal record. Contact the Law Office of Mark A. Bernstein today to speak with an experienced harassment defense attorney who can help you protect your rights and fight to clear your name.