Evesham Township NJ Stalking Lawyers
Criminal and Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys in Burlington County, New Jersey
A stalking charge can arise in any number of situations and these criminal cases are intricately intertwined with domestic violence matters in New Jersey. In fact, if a person is convicted of stalking, this also acts as an application for a final restraining order, unless the victim requests otherwise. Depending on the circumstances of the specific case, stalking can be considered a third degree or fourth degree crime. In a typical stalking case, the offense is a crime of the fourth degree; however, stalking can be elevated to a third degree crime if the person allegedly commits the offense in violation of an existing court order (i.e. restraining order); if it is a second or subsequent offense against the same victim; or if the person is in prison, on parole, or on probation when the offense occurs. In any stalking case, the consequences are serious, including a possible prison term and a permanent restraining order prohibiting any future contract with the victim. If you have been arrested for stalking, it is crucial to find legal help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Leonard Biddison is a seasoned criminal and domestic violence defense attorney who has been successfully representing clients in Burlington County and South Jersey for over 20 years. With thousands of satisfied clients and successful outcomes throughout his career, Mr. Biddison has earned recognition among the Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyers in the U.S. from the National Trial Lawyers Association. If you are facing criminal charges and/or a restraining order in connection with allegations of stalking in Mount Holly, Evesham Township, Burlington City, Willingboro, Delran, Burlington County, or elsewhere in Southern New Jersey, contact the Law Offices of Leonard Biddison at 856-245-5240 for immediate assistance and a free consultation. Mr. Biddison will be happy to explain your charges, answer your questions, and begin building your best defense.
New Jersey Stalking Charges: N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10
The New Jersey Statute that outlines stalking and the definitions associated with a stalking charge is N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10, entitled “Definitions; stalking designated a crime; degrees.” According to this law:
b. 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 for his safety or the safety of a third person or suffer other emotional distress.
c. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he commits the crime of stalking in violation of an existing court order prohibiting the behavior.
d. A person who commits a second or subsequent offense of stalking against the same victim is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
e. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he commits the crime of stalking while serving a term of imprisonment or while on parole or probation as the result of a conviction for any indictable offense under the laws of this State, any other state or the United States.
f. This act shall not apply to conduct which occurs during organized group picketing.
Stalking Definitions under NJ Law
Subsection A of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10 provides stalking definitions for the following legal terms:
- Course of conduct: means repeatedly maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a person; directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, or communicating to or about, a person, or interfering with a person’s property; repeatedly committing harassment against a person; or repeatedly conveying, or causing to be conveyed, verbal or written threats or threats conveyed by any other means of communication or threats implied by conduct or a combination thereof directed at or toward a person.
- Repeatedly: means on two or more occasions.
- Emotional distress: means significant mental suffering or distress.
- Cause a reasonable person to fear: means to cause fear which a reasonable victim, similarly situated, would have under the circumstances.
Notice that “Course of Conduct” does not require you to maintain a visual or physical proximity to a person directly. In 2009, New Jersey lawmakers amended the stalking statute to include indirect communication to or about a person through any means. This is an important thing to notice because a person can now be charged with stalking for communicating or harassing with a cell phone, the Internet, social media, or other technological means that allow people to be much more connected than ever before.
Penalties for Stalking in New Jersey
If you are charged with a fourth degree crime for stalking, the potential penalties include a New Jersey State Prison term of up to 18 months and a felony conviction on your record. As for third degree stalking charges, these are punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years.
Stalking Conviction and Permanent Restraining Order: N.J.S.A.2C:12-10.1
As mentioned above, a conviction for stalking acts as an automatic application for a permanent restraining order. In other words, you face the potential penalties associated with the criminal offense of stalking, as well as the institution of a final restraining order, which can significantly impact your life. If a judge decides to put a final restraining order into effect, this will make it illegal for you to have any contact with the victim, his or her family, and third parties who are designated as “protected persons” under the order. From that day forward, you are barred from entering or being in the immediate vicinity of the victim’s home, property, school, place of employment, and any other specified places in the order that are frequented by the victim. You are also not allowed to contact the victim or anyone connected to them, like family and friends. A violation of a restraining order is also a criminal offense in New Jersey that exposes you to up to 18 months in prison if you are convicted.
Contact a Mount Holly NJ Stalking Defense Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been charged with stalking in Burlington County or elsewhere in South Jersey, contact the Law Offices of Leonard Biddison today for a free consultation with an experienced stalking defense lawyer. With several office locations in Collingswood, Philadelphia, and Delaware County, we defend clients in Pemberton, Moorestown, Maple Shade, Bordentown, Cinnaminson, and throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.