Domestic Violence and Internet Crimes

Internet communications and threats can contribute to New Jersey domestic violence upgrades of qualifying criminal charges. Don't use the internet, or any other means, to commit domestic violence. If you are separated from your spouse, children, dating partner, or other parent of your child, and you and your partner have disagreements that anger or distress you, don't take your emotions out by making hostile email, text, chat, social media posts, or other internet communications. Serious criminal charges may follow if you use the internet for acts that qualify as threats, harassment, or stalking. Internet communications are generally readily preserved and easily recoverable for criminal proceedings. Stay away from the internet with your disagreements and anger. And if you face New Jersey domestic violence upgrade of criminal charges based on internet activity, promptly retain New Jersey criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's criminal defense team. New Jersey domestic violence charges are serious matters. Retain the best available domestic violence attorney for your best possible outcome.

Qualifying Domestic Relationships

New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J. Stat. 2C:25-17 et seq., doesn't define a single domestic violence crime. Instead, it upgrades other crimes to higher levels when those crimes occur against certain victims. Internet misconduct cannot qualify as domestic violence unless it involves one of these qualifying victims. Under N.J. Stat. 2C:25-19d, qualifying domestic violence victims include “any person who is 18 years of age or older or who is an emancipated minor and who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other person who is a present household member or was at any time a household member.” Victims can also include those with whom the perpetrator “has a child in common, or … anticipates having a child in common, if one of the parties is pregnant.” Victims can also include those with whom the perpetrator has a dating relationship.

New Jersey Qualifying Domestic Violence Crimes

Under N.J. Stat. 2C:25-19a, those other crimes that can qualify for a domestic violence upgrade include homicide, assault, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, terroristic threats, harassment, lewdness, stalking, false imprisonment, kidnapping, criminal restraint, criminal mischief, and burglary. Internet misconduct cannot qualify as domestic violence unless it implicates one of these qualifying crimes.

New Jersey Internet Crimes

New Jersey has a computer crime statute, N.J. Stat. 2C:20-25, that criminalizes a long list of computer misuses. That cybercrime statute, though, isn't among the above several criminal statutes that qualify for domestic violence upgrades. One can commit a cybercrime under N.J. Stat. 2C:20-25 without committing domestic violence. But the above qualifying domestic violence crimes do include crimes that can reach internet misconduct. The above terroristic threats, stalking, and harassment crimes can each serve as an internet crime. New Jersey defines those three crimes qualifying for domestic violence upgrades and potentially reaching internet activity as follows.

Terroristic Threats on the Internet

The terroristic threats statute N.J. Stat. 2C:12-3 states that a “person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he threatens to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation, or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience….” Thus, an email, text, chat, or other electronic communication over the internet that terrorizes a qualifying domestic violence victim, like a spouse or former spouse, can support a domestic violence upgrade of the terroristic threats crime.

Stalking Using the Internet

The stalking statute N.J. Stat. 2C:12-10b states that a “person is guilty of stalking, a crime of the fourth degree, if he 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.” Thus, an email, text, chat, or other electronic communication over the internet that stalks a qualifying domestic violence victim in the above-defined manner can support a domestic violence upgrade of the stalking crime.

Harassment Using the Internet

The harassment statute N.J. Stat. 2C:33-4 states that “a person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, with purpose to harass another, he: a. Makes, or causes to be made, a communication or communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; b. Subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or c. Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.” Thus, an email, text, chat, or other electronic communication over the internet that harasses a qualifying domestic violence victim in the above-defined manner can support a domestic violence upgrade of the harassment crime.

Defending Internet Domestic Violence Upgrades

Aggressive and effective defense attorney representation can successfully defend against domestic violence upgrades based on internet activity. Internet communications invite abrupt, insulting, and argumentative language between family members and persons in dating relationships. Every angry, disrespectful, or offensive internet communication isn't an actual threat. Skilled representation may prove to the court that you did not send the communication, that the communication was not harassing or threatening, and that your internet activity cannot support a domestic violence upgrade of the New Jersey crime with which you are charged. New Jersey criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm criminal defense team are available for your aggressive and effective defense of New Jersey domestic violence upgrades based on internet activity. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now to retain attorney Lento.

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When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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