Offensive Speech on Public Issues May Be Stalking Or Harassment In NJ

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 27, 2023 | 0 Comments

Recently, a Hoboken resident was charged with stalking and harassing public officials and private persons supporting a contentious bond referendum. The public officials included the Mayor and Council President, to whom the defendant sent letters at home. You might be asking how writing a letter—albeit an angry or abusive one—has become harassment or stalking under NJ law. In this case, the letters contained threats and were racially charged, sexually suggestive, and otherwise offensive.

Stalking and Harassment in NJ

Stalking involves a "course of conduct" towards a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their own or another person's safety. This might involve repeated attempts to follow or communicate with a person, but it can also involve repeatedly committing harassment. Harassment involves communications that are either extremely unsettling (at unusual hours or in patently offensive or coarse language) or which are likely to cause "annoyance or alarm."

Stalking and Restraining Orders

Under NJ law, a stalking conviction acts as an automatic application for a permanent or final Restraining Order (FRO). A restraining order comes with its own issues and collateral consequences. Your job may demand that any restraining order or conviction be reported, and a stalking conviction with a FRO may lead to job loss. It may also lead to difficulties with a child custody issue, the loss of a right to own a weapon, or damage to your reputation or business.

If You Are Charged With Stalking or Receive a Restraining Order

If you are charged with Stalking or Harassment, the prosecutor must prove that your conduct fits the NJ statute definition. The statute is full of loose terms and definitions, and the possibility of another person misconstruing your intent is significant. Your best defense may be arguing that your conduct does not amount to harassment or another defined term in the statute.

If you receive a restraining order, the first thing you should do is accept it and not become abusive or angry—everything you do related to this issue will be scrutinized in court. Then, you need to secure an attorney experienced with restraining orders. In the case of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), hearings are scheduled within a ten-day window. Now is not the time for delay—if you are going to secure legal counsel to represent you most effectively, you must act quickly. During your wait for the chance to defend yourself, follow the terms of the Order and don't give the other side any fuel for the fire.

Call the Lento Law Firm for Stalking or Harassment Defense

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has experience in defense of stalking or harassment charges and has experience handling all types of restraining orders. We understand the impact they can have on clients' lives. If you've been charged or issued a TRO, or if you're fighting to overturn a FRO, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686, or submit your details online, and we will contact you.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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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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