Paterson NJ Stalking Defense Lawyers
The intended purpose of the NJ Stalking Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10, is to prevent the escalation of conduct like harassment or terroristic threats into something even more serious. Unfortunately, individuals can be wrongfully charged with this offense by the police because of oversensitivity to goal of this law. Another issue that usually arises in stalking cases is involvement of a restraining order. What you should know if you are confronted with a charge of stalking is that it is a felony — either a crime of the third degree or fourth degree. With stakes as high as these, it would certainly be wise for you to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with stalking and/or are a defendant to a related temporary restraining order. To this end, a lawyer on our staff is always available 24/7 for free initial consultation at 862-203-4070. We have been appearing in courts throughout Passaic County including but not limited too Passaic City, Paterson, Wayne, Clifton, Haledon, Pompton Lakes and Hawthorne on stalking charges.
Stalking Law in New Jersey
As previously stated, stalking can result in a third degree or fourth degree offense. The following is the law relative to each of these grades of stalking.
- Fourth Degree Stalking. A person is guilty of this violation if they purposefully or knowingly engages in a course of conduct directed 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.
- Third Degree Stalking. If fourth degree stalking is committed in violation of an existing court order, the violation becomes a third degree crime. A person may also be charged with third degree stalking if it is the defendant’s second or subsequent incident of stalking against the same victim. Lastly, stalking in the third degree may be charged with the violation occurs while the defendant is serving a term of imprisonment or while on parole or probation as the result of a conviction for any indictable offense.
Stalking is generally construed as a repeated course of conduct that would cause a reasonable person in the victim’s shoes to fear for their safety, the safety of a third person or otherwise result in their suffering emotional distress. N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10 defines “repeated” as two or more occasions and “emotional distress” as significant mental suffering or distress. In addition, the reasonable person standard contained in the law is met where the conduct would cause fear on the part of a reasonable person similarly situated to the victim.
What is the Grading of a Stalking Charge?
Generally, stalking is a crime of the fourth degree. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged stalking incident, a charge for stalking may be upgraded to a crime of the third degree. If any of the following three situations apply, then the charge will be stalking in the third degree:
- The defendant commits the crime of stalking in violation of an existing court order prohibiting the behavior.
- The defendant commits a second or subsequent offense of stalking against the same victim.
- The defendant commits the crime of stalking while serving a term of imprisonment or while on parole or probation as the result of a conviction for any indictable offense under the laws of this State, any other state or the United States.
What are the Penalties for Stalking?
Stalking in the third degree results in a state prison term of three (3) to five (5) years. The fine can reach $15,000 for a third degree stalking. A fourth degree can also result in state prison time but the maximum period of incarceration is eighteen (18) months in jail. The fine for fourth degree stalking is up to $10,000.
Stalking Defense Attorneys in Clifton NJ
If you or a loved on has a stalking charge pending, an attorney on our defense team is available now to assist you. Initial consultations are always without expense, so do not hesitate to give us a call at 862-203-4070. Our team of Passaic County criminal defense attorneys have the experience and skill set needed to fight to protect your rights.