Former Prosecutor Fighting for Your Rights
Have you been charged with harassment? Or has someone filed a harassment complaint against you? Did a fight with a loved one result in conduct you’re embarrassed about? Maybe you tried to resolve a fight with your significant other by going to her house late at night and everything escalated into a giant mess? Everyone goes through hard times, and sometimes relationships can get out of hand, making it hard to see when you’ve crossed the line. My name is Anthony N. Palumbo, former prosecutor and partner at The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo, and with over 35 years of criminal trial experience, I know what you’re going through, and I can help. Call 866-664-8118.
Our firm defends individuals accused of assault and threat crimes, harassment, aggravated assault, weapons offenses, sexual assault, robbery and armed robbery, disorderly conduct, eluding an officer and obstructing justice throughout the State of New Jersey such as Essex County, Union County, Middlesex County, Somerset County Hudson County, Morris County and Monmouth County.
For a crime this serious, you need my experience on your side. A conviction of harassment can result in prison time, and thousands of dollars in fines, but it can also result in something much more damaging. Accusations of harassment alone can destroy your reputation, making employers afraid to hire you out of fear you will harass their employees, or landlords hesitant to accept you into their living community, fearing you will harass their fellow residents. Don’t let one mistake destroy the rest of your life.
Harassment Charges In New Jersey
According to N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4, in order to be convicted of harassment, you must not only commit the act of harassing another, but you must also have the proper intent. The proper intent requires that the act is committed with the purpose of harassing the victim.
- For Example, imagine after a fight with your girlfriend, you go to her house late that night to resolve the situation, but instead it gets worse and you end up yelling terrible things at her. If you yelled those things for a purpose other than to harass her, then you do not have the proper intent to be convicted of harassment.
- Remember, harassment requires both the proper intent and the act to occur.
- Moreover, New Jersey Courts have found that profanity alone is not enough to prove the intent to harass.
A lawyer may be able to have the charges against you dismissed by showing that you did not have the proper intent when you committed the act. This is just one of the many defenses a lawyer can advocate on your behalf.
Elements of the Crime
The elements of a crime are like building blocks that the prosecution must put together in order to obtain a conviction. If one of the blocks is missing, a conviction cannot be obtained. A defense attorney can help you by showing that the prosecution has failed to prove the existence of one or more elements. Let’s take a look at the elements required for a harassment conviction.
In order to be convicted of harassment, you must commit one of the following acts with the purpose of harassing that person:
- Make, or cause a communication anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
- Subject another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threaten to do so; or
- Engage in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person
What exactly is annoying or alarming conduct?
- There are no black and white rules in cases of harassment, but rather each charge of harassment turns on the individual facts of the case. When considering whether a communication constitutes prohibited harassment, the court will look at factors such as age, gender, occupation, and the relationship between the victim and the alleged harasser. An experienced attorney will be able to argue the factors in your favor, providing you with the best possible defense.
- New Jersey Courts have ruled that thoughtless words are not enough to constitute harassment, so a person’s guilt will often depend on whether their actions were simply thoughtless gestures or actually constituted prohibited harassment. The line between thoughtless words and harassment is very thin. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to have an experienced attorney by your side. An experienced attorney may be able to have the charges against you dropped if he can prove that your behavior merely constituted thoughtless words. The difference between a few words can be the difference between freedom and time in jail.
Penalties For Harassment
Harassment is generally considered a disorderly persons offense, and will most likely result in:
- Up to 6 months in Prison; and
- $1,000 in fines
If you are convicted of a disorderly persons offense, you may not have to spend 6 months in prison. New Jersey Law imposes a maximum of 6 months in prison, however, you could easily receive a much lighter sentence. The difference between no jail time and 6 months in prison can be the difference your lawyer makes.
Harassment however, will not always warrant a disorderly persons offense. Under certain circumstances, the charge may be upgraded. For example, if you commit harassment and you were either in jail or were on parole or probation because you were convicted of any previous crime, you will be charged with a 4th degree offense. This carries penalties of:
- Up to 18 months in prison; and
- $10,000 in fines
To view the entire portion of the New Jersey Statute that pertains to harassment see N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4
Hopefully, this page has helped to answer some of your preliminary questions, however it is in no way a replacement to the valuable role an attorney can play in your case. If you have been charged with harassment, contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo for a free initial consultation and let’s discuss some possible defenses for your case.
With 35 years of criminal trial experience, I know which defenses will work for you and I will make sure you receive the lightest sentence possible based on the circumstances of your case. Don’t wait until it’s too late. With a free initial consultation, you have nothing to lose.
Contact me today for a free initial consultation and let me put your mind at ease. Our firm defends New Jersey harassment charges and indictments throughout the state including the communities of Berkeley Heights, Eatontown, Fanwood, Garwood, Kearny, Elizabeth, Woodbridge, Linden, Rahway, Clark, Westfield, and Cranford. While this webpage can’t answer all of your questions, it should help answer some of them by explaining the elements of harassment and the resulting penalties.