Stalking and Domestic Violence in New Jersey
You just came home from a first date with a guy you met not too long ago. The date went well, but you aren’t trying to rush into anything. You exchange a few text messages between each other the rest of that night. All is well and good.
The next morning you wake up to several text messages saying something along the lines of why you haven’t responded to these texts yet. A red light goes off in your head. This is weird, right? So, you don’t respond. While you’re at work, you get a floral delivery with a note from the guy who you went out with and sent all those text messages earlier in the morning. It says “I love you.” While others find this flattering, you find it creepy. You text him and tell him the behavior needs to end.
As the next few days play out, things feel odd. You are getting phone calls from unknown numbers. Every time you answer, the calls get disconnected. You also feel like you’re being followed or someone is watching you. Then one night, you come home to a note on your door from that guy who proclaimed his love for you. It says he has been watching you. You are creeped out and fear for your safety. What should you do?
Stalking in New Jersey
The example above is an act of stalking, and it’s taken extremely seriously in New Jersey because of its label as a crime under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Statute. Stalking is actually a starting point for many domestic violence incidents across the Garden State.
According to state law, stalking is a third or fourth-degree crime and is defined as “purposefully or knowingly engaging 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.”
Those who have been stalked in accordance with the state law’s definition may be entitled to receive a permanent restraining order (PRO) against their stalker. A PRO is available only once someone has been convicted of stalking. It will forbid a stalker from entering your home, property, school, and potentially your place of work. The restraining order also mandates that the convicted stalker cutoff communication with the victim and his or her friends and family.
Punishments for Stalking
As we stated earlier, stalking can be either a third or fourth-degree crime. The punishments for stalking in the fourth degree include up to 18 months in prison, as compared to stalking in the third degree which can be up to five years in prison. In addition, those whose are subject to PROs can be affected for life. It can interfere with child custody, finances, ability to bear arms, and much more. The restraining order will remain in full force until the court says otherwise or if the person who originally filed the restraining order files an application for it to be lifted.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you love is in danger of stalking or domestic violence, be sure to contact law enforcement right away. If you have questions about the stalking laws and what you can do in New Jersey, it is best you speak with the experienced Anthony Carbone. Contact our law offices today.