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What is harassment under New Jersey law?

| Apr 6, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Sometimes, another individual’s unwanted behavior rises to harassment. New Jersey law defines when harassment reaches a criminal level. In the Garden State, someone may find the first offense for harassment not entirely concerning, but subsequent convictions could lead someone into serious legal troubles.

Harassment and the New Jersey criminal code

The New Jersey criminal code spells out behavior that falls under the “harassment” category. Being boorish or awkward might bother others, but such behavior doesn’t likely rise to harassment. Consistently attempting to upset, severely annoy, or otherwise cause anguish may reach the legal threshold for harassment. Repeatedly contacting someone who doesn’t wish to be bothered and doing so at 3 AM could rise to harassment.

Putting hands on someone could lead to charges. A minor physical altercation, such as one involving non-injurious shoving, may result in harassment charges. Even threatening to touch someone might lead to a harassment conviction.

Criminal charges and their severity

New Jersey law lists harassment as a “petty disorderly persons” offense, which is below a “disorderly persons offense,” a misdemeanor elsewhere. A petty disorderly persons offense would be the equivalent to a “summary offense” in, say, Pennsylvania. Still, a petty disorderly persons conviction could result in a maximum of 30 days in jail and/or a maximum $500 fine.

That said, a tremendous exception exists in the law for persons on parole or probation for an indictable offense. If such a person commits harassment, he or she will not face petty disorderly persons’ charges. Instead, the incident rises to a “crime of the fourth degree,” a felony.

Even a petty disorderly persons offense may lead to other criminal law troubles. Anyone facing charges could speak with a defense attorney about how to deal with the charges.