Experienced Domestic Violence Attorney in Bergen County, NJ
Under New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), cyberstalking is considered a form of domestic violence when committed against a current or former spouse, current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, parent of a shared child, or another member of the alleged perpetrator’s household. Domestic violence charges carry severe penalties, and individuals accused of cyberstalking can also face extremely-restrictive domestic violence restraining orders. If you have been charged with cyberstalking, or if you are victim of cyberstalking and you need legal protection, it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible, and we strongly encourage you to contact us immediately for a free and confidential consultation.
What is Cyberstalking?
The crime of cyberstalking, or “cyber-harassment,” is defined in Section 2C:33-4.1 of the New Jersey Criminal Code of Justice:
“A person commits the crime of cyber-harassment if, while making a communication in an online capacity via any electronic device or through a social networking site and with the purpose to harass another, the person: (1) threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person; (2) knowingly sends, posts, comments, requests, suggests, or proposes any lewd, indecent, or obscene material to or about a person with the intent to emotionally harm a reasonable person or place a reasonable person in fear of physical or emotional harm to his person; or (3) threatens to commit any crime against the person or the person’s property.”
As you can see, New Jersey’s definition of criminal cyberstalking is extremely broad. It applies to all forms of electronic communication (including email, text and social media posts), and it imposes sanctions for communications including:
- Threats to commit a crime against a person or the person’s property;
- Threats to inflict personal injury;
- Threats to inflict property damage; and
- Sending lewd, indecent or obscene material.
In most cases, cyberstalking is a fourth-degree indictable offense and carries the potential for up to 18 months of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. When the alleged victim claims that the cyberstalking was an act of domestic violence he or she can seek a final restraining order, and violation of a domestic violence restraining order carries its own severe criminal penalties.
Defenses to Cyberstalking Allegations in New Jersey
In addition to the defenses that apply in all criminal cases, there are some specific defenses available under New Jersey’s cyber-harassment statute as well. For example, in many cases there will be a question as to whether the defendant’s communication truly constitutes a “threat,” or whether the defendant “knowingly” sent lewd, indecent or obscene material. With regard to sending lewd, indecent or obscene material, Section 2C:33-4.1 also requires evidence of “intent” to cause fear or emotional harm, and, depending upon the circumstances, proving subjective intent can be a substantial burden for the prosecution. When you hire attorney Scott Gorman, he will thoroughly evaluate all potential defenses available in your case, and he will tailor his representation to the unique facts and circumstances involved.
Speak with Bergen County Domestic Violence Attorney Scott Gorman for Free
Whether you have been accused of cyberstalking or you are a victim and need to seek protection, attorney Scott Gorman can help. To discuss your situation in a free and confidential consultation, please call (201) 489-9199 or inquire online now.