New Jersey Stalking Laws
Stalking is defined as a pattern of malicious behavior (not just a one-time event) intended to cause fear or apprehension in another individual. This may include repeatedly showing up at someone's place of work, making frequent phone calls, or other unwanted acts. Stalking often is charged against estranged spouses and partners. New Jersey stalking laws provide for automatic permanent restraining orders upon conviction.
The following table lists the basics of New Jersey's stalking laws, with more in-depth information below. See Stalking to learn more about this crime.
|Stalking Defined as||Purposeful conduct directed at specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or death to himself or family member and knowingly, recklessly, or negligently places person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or death to himself or family member.|
|Punishment/Classification||Crime of the 4th degree. If court order prohibiting the behavior: crime in the 3rd degree. Crime in 3rd degree if actor is serving term of imprisonment or while on parole or probation.|
|Penalty for Repeat Offense||If 2nd or subsequent against same victim: crime in the 3rd degree|
|Arrest or Restraining Order Specifically Authorized by Statute?||Stalking conviction acts as application for permanent restraining order|
|Constitutionally Protected Activities Exempted?||Organized group picketing|
What does New Jersey define as stalking?
In New Jersey, stalking is defined as "purposeful conduct directed at specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or death to himself or family member and knowingly, recklessly, or negligently places person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or death to himself or family member." Put in simpler terms, stalking is purposeful conduct that makes a reasonable person afraid of injury to themselves or a family member. This can be anything from following someone around, calling regularly, sending unsolicited letters, or making other contact that causes fear.
Punishment for Stalking in New Jersey
Stalking is a fourth degree crime in New Jersey. It is a third degree crime if there is already a court order prohibiting the behavior. It is also a third degree crime if the alleged stalker is serving jail time or is on parole or probation. The offense is also a third degree crime for any subsequent offenses.
Getting a Restraining Order in New Jersey
If someone is stalking you, your first instinct may be to try to get a restraining order against that person. Restraining orders are relatively easy to obtain in New Jersey if there is already a history of abuse and violence between the stalker and the victim. If the victim does not personally know the stalker, and does not have much information about them, getting a restraining order may be more difficult. If you know the stalker, there may be other alternatives to a restraining order which may get the unwanted behavior to stop. Getting a restraining order may be expensive, and other out of court methods may be more cost effective.
If you would like to know more about stalking laws, there are many criminal law attorneys throughout New Jersey who may be able to help. Including informing you of stalking laws, they can help to defend you if you are accused of stalking. If you are looking for help to stop a potential stalker, you may wish to speak with an attorney who has experience with domestic violence issues may be able to help.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
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