The majority of harassment charges stem from relationships that have soured. Unfortunately, tempers have a tendancey to flair during the heat of the moment, and people say and do things that they ordinarily would not. In some instances, harassment complaints are filed with the authorities. The statute is rather vague on what type of conduct constitutes harassment. It is this same gray area that provides expereinced defense lawyers with many winning trial defenses. Keep in mind that a few nasty words back and forth is not necessarily harassment. The case law examining the statute makes clear that there has to be an intent on the part of the accused to harass, along with sufficienty nefarious condcuct.
I have won many harassment cases. This is a difficult charge to prosecute. However the consequences are far reaching, i.e. up to 6 months in jail, $1000 fine, criminal record.
In some instances, there may be a restraining order hearing in addition to the harassment complaint. This is frequently the case with domestic violence related matters, where there is some type of dating relationship. Although the restraining order hearing is civil in nature, a final order will cause a vast array of problems for the defendant.
There are a variety of unforeseen consequences in connection with a harassment charge. You should contact an attorney who offers free consultations prior to any court appearances. It is imperative that the defendant educate themselves prior to making any decisions.
§ 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.