Campus Stalking Allegations in New Jersey
“Stalking” conjures harrowing images of predators crossing the line of personal safety in an obsessive manner. The truth is, stalking statutes leave far more room for interpretation. No student accused of stalking in New Jersey should be presumed guilty nor branded a threat to campus or individual safety.
Yet, without a proper defense, you may face severe consequences from the legal system and your university in New Jersey. If you face a conviction and determination of responsibility from your university, you may stand to lose:
- Your freedom
- Your good reputation
- Your enrollment at your current university
- The chance to enroll in other undergraduate or postgraduate institutions
- Your professional ambitions
Give these potential consequences credence. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Student Defense Team have helped many students remain enrolled and avoid serious criminal penalties. We will work to minimize the harm that stalking allegations, or similar accusations pose you.
How Authorities Detect Stalking Allegations on New Jersey Campuses
Students today face a sort of preemptive stigma. Some hold the idea that college campuses in New Jersey are populated by predatory individuals who, if given a chance, will pounce on victims. Too often, this leads to unjust accusations of stalking and similar charges.
There is no shortage of authorities to whom someone can file an allegation of stalking. For example, a student attending Princeton University may make an offhand comment about stalking—or a serious allegation—to several authorities with the power to take formal action, including:
- Princeton University Department of Public Safety
- The Municipality of Princeton, NJ Police Department
- New Jersey State Police
- Princeton University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator
- Dean of Students
- Resident Assistant (RA)
- Teaching Assistant (TA)
Several of these authorities may, by legal mandate, have to act on a comment about alleged stalking. Therefore, even an off-handed remark could result in formal criminal and university investigations into your conduct.
Specific Stalking Crimes a University Student in New Jersey May Face
There are several criminal statutes that may apply to someone accused of stalking or a similar offense, but N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10(b) is the first statute you should be aware of. This statute states that someone is guilty of stalking if they “purposefully or knowingly engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his safety or the safety of a third person or suffer other emotional distress.”
The statute names specific acts that may qualify as stalking, including:
- Intentionally maintaining visual or physical proximity to a person (the traditional concept of stalking)
- Monitoring or surveilling someone by physical or electronic means
- Communicating with someone against their wishes
- Engaging with someone's property, including their residence or vehicle
A first-time offender may be sentenced to a fourth-degree offense in New Jersey. This can result in up to 18 months in state prison, fines, and other conditions.
In some circumstances, a stalking conviction is a third-degree offense. Violating a court order of protection, having prior stalking convictions, and stalking while already on parole may escalate a stalking charge to a third-degree offense. If convicted of stalking in the third degree, you could face up to five years in prison, fines, and other penalties.
Related Offenses You Should Be Aware Of
Several other criminal statutes may be relevant to someone accused of stalking. While you may not face a criminal charge of stalking, allegations of harassment, sexual misconduct, or other wrongdoing may fall under:
- N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1: Assault
- N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3: Terroristic threats
- N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1: Kidnapping
- N.J.S.A. 2C:13-3: False imprisonment
- N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5: Criminal coercion
- N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2: Sexual assault
- N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3: Criminal sexual contact
These and other criminal offenses carry life-altering consequences. If you face any criminal charge while attending university in New Jersey, you should hire Attorney Joseph Lento and his Criminal Defense Team to build a strong defense.
How Attorney Joseph D. Lento and His Criminal Defense Team Will Defend You Against Criminal Stalking Charges in New Jersey
You stand to lose the most from a possible criminal conviction. While university disciplinary proceedings are also very important, we'll first address any criminal proceedings ahead.
We will guide you through the criminal justice process by:
- Preparing you for arraignment, helping you plea, and accompanying you to all court proceedings
- Securing all evidence that suggests you are not guilty of the allegations levied against you
- Interviewing witnesses who can provide an alibi or otherwise cast doubt on the allegations against you
- Filing any necessary legal documents to allow you to continue your education as the legal process unfolds
- Utilizing the discovery process to understand a prosecutor's case against you
- Developing a legal strategy based on the facts of your case—general options include exploring plea bargains, seeking dismissal of the charges, or seeking a not-guilty verdict at trial
- Guiding you through any necessary trial, which requires making oral arguments, questioning witnesses, presenting and contesting the evidence, and making a comprehensive case for a not-guilty verdict
We generally aim to avoid trial when possible. It is often in a student's best interest to resolve a stalking charge through a dismissal, suspended or deferred sentencing, conditional sentencing, or other legal avenues.
However, when you face allegations as serious as stalking, we maintain all legal options. The Lento Law Firm Team will work closely with you, ensuring that we protect your best interest and allow you a voice in your defense.
University Policies Governing Stalking and Related Offenses in New Jersey
We will work to resolve your criminal case as quickly and completely as possible. By securing a legal resolution, we may put you in a strong position to resolve any potential university-level discipline you face.
Note that, if we must, the Lento Law Firm will manage your criminal and university cases simultaneously. We will communicate with your school to determine if this is necessary, or if we may resolve your criminal case first.
Every university in New Jersey prohibits stalking. Kean University students “are prohibited from engaging in harassment, intimidation or bullying.” University literature notes that the minimum policy for any kind of harassment is probation, while the maximum sanction is expulsion.
Students may also be able to file charges through a university law enforcement agency. This could further complicate the university-level disciplinary process and enhance the need to hire the Lento Law Firm.
University-Level Disciplinary Procedures You May Face for Alleged Stalking
Each college and university in New Jersey has its own disciplinary policies. Each school, you can be certain, takes allegations of stalking (and other harassment offenses) seriously. At Rutgers University, for example, a student faces suspension or dismissal if found responsible for “sexual violence and related misconduct.”
Attorney Lento and his Student Defense Team will urgently research your university's disciplinary procedures. We can lead your defense from university sanctions by:
Gathering Background Information About the Stalking Allegations You Face
Or any other allegations of misconduct you face. We will conduct an initial investigation of your stalking allegations by:
- Getting your perspective on the allegations, why you are facing them, and what motivations the accuser may have
- Acquiring any evidence, witness accounts, or other exonerating information you possess
- Communicating with university officials to understand what prompted a formal investigation of the stalking allegations
- Requesting any information the university possesses that may affect your case, constituting a discovery process at the university level
Once we have secured all existing information about your case, we'll continue our investigation.
Launching Our Own Investigation
Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team will seek out new accounts and evidence. We hope that these accounts and evidence will support your defense, but our goal is to get complete information about your case. This will allow us to mount the strongest possible defense.
Accompanying You Through the Investigative Process
We will ensure that you are completely prepared for the investigative process. Whenever possible, the Lento Law Firm Team will accompany you to investigative meetings, whether they are remote or in-person.
We will help you by:
- Explaining your university's investigative and disciplinary procedures
- Ensuring you have a clear, accurate account of events
- Advising you on when and whether to give statements to university officials
- Helping you craft any written statements related to university disciplinary proceedings
- Remaining in close communication to answer your questions and guide you through every step of the investigation
We have dealt with many students facing serious allegations in New Jersey. We have also dealt with university officials. Our team understands how daunting disciplinary proceedings can be, and we will see you through to the other side.
Leading Any Disciplinary Hearing Your University Conducts
Students in New Jersey typically undergo a hearing-style process before facing formal discipline. If this occurs in your case, our team will accompany you through the hearing (if permitted). We may then:
- Present evidence
- Critique any evidence presented against you
- Question accusatory witnesses
- Present and question our own witnesses
- Complete opening and closing arguments
We will also file motions and manage other aspects of the hearing.
Handling Any Necessary Appeal
If your university proceeds with discipline, we will file your appeal as soon as possible. Though we hope to avoid having to appeal, this is sometimes a necessary step in the defense process.
Negotiating Directly With Your University's Legal Representatives
Attorney Joseph Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team have secured many resolutions directly with universities' legal representatives. Also known as Offices of General Counsel (OGCs), this department can typically resolve stalking cases outside of the university's formal rules and procedures.
We will contact your university's Office of General Counsel at an appropriate time. This time may vary from case to case, but when we contact an OGC we:
- Explain the nature of your case
- Present any evidence, testimony, and arguments we have that suggest you're wrongfully accused or facing unjust discipline
- Discuss any resolutions the university's attorneys can offer
- Explain that if attorneys are not willing to resolve your case appropriately, we will take necessary legal action
Many of our clients intend on continuing school at their current university. We want to negotiate an acceptable resolution without causing avoidable rifts with your school. However, we'll protect your best interest, first and foremost, as we work to resolve your case.
Universities Do Not Always Provide Due Process to the Accused—We Will Ensure Your School Honors Your Rights
Rutgers University's Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance lists several acts it defines as “stalking behaviors.” Many of these behaviors may occur in the course of a relationship between college-aged couples, yet may be used as the basis to expel a student like you.
It is critical that you have a capable defense, especially as universities may use the “preponderance of evidence” standard to assume your guilt. This means that, even if your accusers cannot show you committed stalking beyond a shadow of a doubt, you may face university discipline.
Yet, you still have rights. This includes the right to assistance from an attorney. We suggest that you hire experienced attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Student Defense Team to lead your case. There is far too much at stake to trust an unproven law firm with your defense.
Hire the Lento Law Firm Student Defense Team to Represent You During University and Criminal Proceedings in New Jersey
Our firm has extensive experience helping students overcome serious allegations, including stalking accusations. Unfortunately, accusers often fail to think twice about throwing the accused's life into turmoil. Our firm is available to help secure the best resolution to a difficult situation.
Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. You can also submit your case details online, and our team will contact you. Do not wait to get our help, as there is no time for delays when defending yourself from stalking allegations or similar charges.