Overview of Cyber Harassment Charges

Explore the Potential Consequences for Cyber Harassment Charges in New Jersey

Overview of Cyber Harassment Charges in New JerseyThe rise of internet use and cyber harassment in New Jersey, as in other parts of the United States, has been significant in recent years. With the increasing use of social media and other online platforms, more and more people are experiencing harassment and abuse online. Some of the most common forms of cyber harassment include online bullying and harassment through social media. In New Jersey, there are laws in place to address cyber harassment, such as the state’s cyber-harassment law, which makes it illegal to use the internet or other forms of electronic communication to harass, threaten, or intimidate someone.

How Did Cyber Harassment Charges Come About?

The charge of cyber-harassment came about as a result of the state’s recognition of the growing problem of online abuse and harassment, especially in relationships with minors and domestic violence victims. There have been cases of suicide by adolescents who were harassed online or threatened that their private information would be divulged. As access to different applications and new technologies expands, so has the number of victims of cyber harassment. The cyber harassment law passed in 2002 and updated in 2018 makes it illegal to use electronic communication to harass, threaten, or intimidate someone, providing cyber harassment victims a way to hold their abusers accountable.

Cyber Harassment Charges and New Jersey Law (2C:33-4.1)

Section 2C:33-4.1 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice concerns cyber-harassment crime.  It states that it is illegal to use the internet or other forms of electronic communication to harass, threaten, or intimidate someone using any electronic device to communicate obscene, indecent, or offensive language.  Also, to suggest or propose an obscene nature with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm the recipient or repeated communication with the intent to harass or annoy them is a crime. Finally, if someone threatens to commit a crime against someone else against them or their property.

What Constitutes Proof of Charges of Cyber Harassment?

There are four elements of proof needed to convict someone of cyber harassment.  The state must prove that the defendant made unwanted communication with the victim or posted something.  Next, the communication must have been through the internet, social media, or other electronic means.  Third, there must have been a motivation to harass the victim.  Lastly, the communication or post has to include an impedance to the victim or their property, a threat to commit a crime, or obscene material with the knowledge that doing so would cause fear or alarm.

How Are Cyber Harassment Charges Graded and Punished?

Cyber harassment is considered a crime of the fourth degree, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.  The grading of the crime may be increased if there are aggravating factors, such as if the victim is a minor, the defendant has a prior criminal record, or if the conduct caused serious bodily injury or emotional distress to the victim. A third-degree charge carries a sentence of 15 years and a fine of up to $15,000.

Additionally, a person convicted of cyber harassment may be required to pay restitution to the victim for any damages suffered as a direct result of the conduct.  The defendant may also have to participate in court-ordered counseling or treatment programs.

What About Juvenile Harassment?

The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act was passed in 2011 in the New Jersey legislature, and it requires all schools in the state to have specific policies and procedures in place to address and prevent bullying and provide training for staff and students.  The law also requires all schools in the state to investigate and report bullying to the Department of Education and to respond to all incidents.  Moreover, the law requires that schools provide support and resources to students who have been bullied.

Juvenile defendants under the age of 16 can receive different kinds of penalties depending on the severity and frequency of the offense.  Juvenile courts can impose community service, fines, restitution, counseling, treatment programs, probation, or placement in a juvenile detention center.  The primary goal of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate and educate rather than punish.

How Domestic Violence and Online Harassment are Related

Consequences for Cyber Harassment in Morris County, New JerseyCyber harassment can be an extension of domestic violence if the person being harassed is a current or former domestic partner or if the person being harassed is a member of the same house as the defendant.  In these cases, the victim can get a restraining order to protect themselves from further abuse.  If a restraining order is already in place and there is any kind of contact, the offender could go to jail, be heavily fined, or both.

A restraining order is a court-issued order that prohibits the perpetrator from having any contact with the victim, either directly or indirectly, including through electronic means such as email, text messages, or social media.  The defendant cannot go to where the victim resides, works, studies, or to known locations such as the residences of family and friends.

Bail & Pretrial Release Following Cyber Harassment Charges

Setting a bail or bond amount to secure a release before the trial has been all but eliminated in the New Jersey Courts.  When someone is arrested on a warrant complaint, they are detained until going before a judge who will set the conditions of their release (in cyber-harassment cases, this usually includes a no-contact order and no electronic communication with the victim.)  This means the defendant will be in custody for a day or two.  If the prosecutor files a motion to detain, it could be longer.

Trust Our Defense Attorneys to Contest Cyber Harassment Charges in Morris County, NJ

Have you or someone you know been charged with cyber harassment or cyberbullying?  It isn’t something to be taken lightly, as penalties include possible jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and a criminal record.  It is a risk too great to leave to less-experienced attorneys.

Our criminal and domestic violence defense lawyers always have our clients’ best interests in mind.  Our strategic methods and vast legal experience can give you the assurance that your unique case is in excellent hands. Leave your future with the experienced and accomplished lawyers on our team.  We serve clients in Madison, Jefferson, Roxbury,  Rockaway, East Hanover, and all Morris County towns. Call us at (908)-336-5008 to get a free consultation or complete our online contact form.

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