Obsession can be dangerous, and when it crosses the line into following, watching, and stalking, there can be serious legal ramifications. In New Jersey, being charged with stalking can lead to fines, jail time, and even restrictions on where you can travel, live, and work. It’s important to understand how the crime of stalking is defined, and what the penalties are.
What Constitutes Stalking?
In New Jersey, a person can be charged with stalking if he or she is acting in such a way that would threaten another person. If a reasonable person would find the actions taken threatening, the law considers this stalking. In these cases, the relationship, or past history, between the victim and the accused is taken into account as well—for example, if the two had previously dated, and the relationship ended with threats or violence, or if there was an existing history of threatening acts between the two.
Stalking as a crime is set forth in the New Jersey’s criminal code, N.J.S.A 2C:12-10. This law states that a person’s “course of conduct” can be considered stalking if that conduct involves “repeatedly maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a person, or repeatedly conveying, or causing to be conveyed, verbal or written threats, or threats conveyed by any other means of communication, or threats implied by conduct or a combination thereof directed at or toward a person.”
Additionally, a person can be charged with stalking as a crime in the fourth degree if he or she is caught directing threats at a specific person that “would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury to himself or a member of his immediate family, or to fear the death of himself or a member of his immediate family.”
A stalking charge in the third degree involves a person’s actions if he is in violation of an existing court order that prohibits the behavior, if he commits the crime against the same person a second or subsequent time, or if he is on parole, or serving a prison sentence, for the conviction of another crime.
Once a person is convicted of stalking someone else, an automatic and permanent restraining order goes into effect. If the conviction is for stalking in the fourth degree, the penalty could be up to eighteen months behind bars. If the conviction is for stalking in the third degree, the jail sentence can be extended up to five years.
Call Your Attorney
At The Gorman Law Firm, a leading Hackensack criminal defense law firm, we represent anyone who has been charged with stalking. A stalking conviction can land you behind bars, and once your time has been served, it may permanently restrict your lifestyle and negatively affect your personal and professional future. For more information about stalking, or a consultation on your case, call Scott Gorman at The Gorman Law Firm today.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense