Cyber Harassment Lawyers in Bergen County
Charged with Cyber Harassment – NJSA 2C:33-4.1
Many people use their smartphones as an extension of themselves. They navigate, communicate, and entertain themselves with the device. But when they use their smartphone to threaten others’ safety or otherwise harass another, they commit a crime. Cyber harassment is a third or fourth degree crime and occurs when online communication turns violent and menacing. So, texting your ex and threatening revenge on them when they least expect it may be cyber harassment. Likewise, blackmailing your ex-lover by threatening to expose them on social media with naked photos they sent you while dating if they don’t get back together with you is also considered cyber harassment. While everyone loses their cool occasionally, cyber harassing someone in New Jersey can land you in jail, and needing an experienced attorney to defend you against the charges.
To get in contact with one of our distinguished criminal defense lawyers with proven experience handling all aspects of cases related to cyber harassment allegations, including criminal charges and domestic violence restraining orders in Bergen County towns like Fort Lee, Ridgefield Park, Teaneck, Elmwood Park, Paramus, Garfield, and Mahwah, please contact our office in Hackensack today. A member of our team is here to offer you a free consultation by calling (201)-330-4979 anytime.
Identifying Cyber Harassment Acts in New Jersey
In New Jersey, cyber harassment is any online communication intended to harass anyone with threats of harm to or committing a crime against a person or their property. It also includes intentionally causing another emotional damage by sending disturbing sexual or obscene material (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4.1). Thus, one who sends alarming messages or photos threatening to cause another shame, embarrassment, and tangible harm, such as losing friends, jobs, or respect in the community, might be charged and convicted of cyber harassment. To prove an accused committed the crime, the state must first convince a jury that the defendant communicated a threat or other harassing, alarming, or menacing material. Then, they must show that the defendant’s threats or other unlawful conduct was conveyed online or electronically. The state must also prove the defendant’s actions indicate an intent to harass the victim. And finally, the communication contains a threat of harm to person or property (including emotional harm), the commission of a crime, or obscene, indecent, or lewd content.
Range of Severity for NJ Cyber Harassment Charges and Penalties
Cyber harassment is a fourth degree crime unless the defendant is 21 or older and targets a minor by pretending to be a minor. Then, it is a third degree crime. A fourth degree criminal conviction leads to a possible 18 month prison sentence and a $10,000.00 fine. A judge could sentence the convicted defendant to a maximum 5 year prison term and a $15,000.00 fine for a third degree crime. And if the defendant is under 16, they face adjudication as a juvenile delinquent. The penalty is mandatory classes for cyber harassment education and deterrence. A parent who fails to cooperate and ensure their child fulfills the sentence is guilty of a disorderly persons offense and must pay a $25.00 fine, with increased penalties for each successive infraction.
Managing Cyber Harassment Allegations and Domestic Violence
The defendant may also be guilty of domestic violence in committing cyber harassment. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act lists 19 predicate acts of domestic violence, one being cyber harassment. The protection afforded a victim of domestic violence is a restraining order, forbidding a restrained party from contacting in any way the holder of the order. As long as the person seeking the order, the plaintiff, is 18 or over or an emancipated minor and intimately involved with the defendant in the past or present, a judge may grant a temporary restraining order to one who proves they need protection for their safety. Thus, the defendant who threatens their ex with harm, a crime, or naked photos commits cyber harassment subject to criminal penalties and a restraining order. If a temporary restraining order becomes a final/permanent order of protection, the defendant has a lifelong restraint and firearms ban.
From Your Door to Jail, the Cyber Harassment Bail Process in NJ Court
One who cyber harasses another may find the police coming to their door with a warrant for their arrest. Since New Jersey no longer requires bail to be released from jail, a judge determines whether a defendant can go free or remain in jail pending their trial. As such, an arrested individual may spend a day or weeks in jail pending the outcome of their case. In other words, a defendant remains in jail until the judge releases them with or without conditions for returning to court for their next hearing. Some conditions may be that the defendant wears an ankle monitor to secure their return to court.
And the prosecutor can file a motion to detain the defendant, alleging they are a flight risk or likely to commit crimes while released. In domestic violence, when a victim may fear the defendant might harm them in retaliation for reporting the crime, a judge may keep the accused in jail until the case concludes.
Why Retain a Cyber Harassment & Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in Hackensack
If convicted of a third or fourth degree crime for cyber harassment or cyberstalking, you could face imprisonment, a criminal record, and high fines. And when you violate the domestic violence laws, you also face a restraining order and registration as a domestic violence offender. Additionally, you could face penalties, including jail, for contempt of court. Even if it is your first criminal conviction, you may not get other first-time offenders’ options, like diversionary programs that allow you to avoid incarceration. Domestic violence convictions typically disqualify a first-time offender from qualifying for superior court diversionary programs, like Pre-trial Intervention. And a criminal conviction on your record can disqualify you from particular employment, housing, or educational opportunities that require background checks.
However, you can get help from a qualified criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable about cyber harassment and domestic violence restraining orders. You may find that the future is not as bleak as it seems. A skillful attorney at our criminal law practice may examine your case and find holes in the prosecutor’s case or flaws that turn the tides in your favor. In addition, phone, computer, or other electronic evidence the police seize to use against you must be lawful. The state must respect your constitutional rights, and we can object to evidence gathered in violation of your rights. Sometimes, we can also challenge the prosecutor’s case by countering proof of your intention to harass. The state must prove all the elements of the crime for a conviction, and if they cannot show you intended to harass or menace the victim, they fail to carry their burden of proof. Even if you cannot challenge the prosecutor’s case, we may be able to negotiate to downgrade your charges or lessen the sentence.
If accused of violating New Jersey’s cyber-harassment laws, be sure you have the best possible legal representation for your cyber harassment defense. Our well-versed team of criminal and domestic violence lawyers is devoted to carrying out a strong defense of your rights and pursuit of the best option for your situation We aggressively defend clients facing restraining orders and cyber harassment charges in Saddle Brook, Palisades Park, Lyndhurst, Lodi, East Rutherford, and the greater Bergen County area.
Contact our team 24/7 at (201)-330-4979 for a free consultation.