Is Stalking a Crime in New Jersey?

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stalking woman with binoculars

When people think of a stalker they may picture a creepy person peeking into a bedroom window. This is one version of stalking, but there are many ways that a person could be convicted of the crime of stalking in New Jersey. Contact a Mercer County criminal defense lawyer to speak with a lawyer about your case and begin forming a strong defense.

What is Stalking Under NJ Law?

Stalking is a crime in New Jersey defined as conduct that involves repeatedly maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a person or repeatedly harassing or threatening a person. In this context repeatedly means two or more times.

Maintaining proximity can be done by following, monitoring, observing, or contacting. These actions cause the victim to fear for their safety and/or life.

What Are the Penalties for Stalking?

New Jersey takes the crime of stalking seriously. Because of the nature of the crime, the penalties that you can incur are quite severe as well. If you are convicted of stalking in New Jersey you can expect to face the following consequences.

  • First offense:
    • Fourth-degree crime
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
    • 6 to 18 months in prison
  • Second or subsequent offense:
    • Third-degree crime
    • Up to $15,000 in fines
    • 3 to 5 years in prison
  • Violating a related court order or restraining order:
    • Third-degree crime
    • Up to $15,000 in fines
    • 3 to 5 years in prison

What Defenses Can I Use?

If you were arrested and charged with stalking in New Jersey, you will want to work with a skilled lawyer to employ one or more effective defenses in court. A conviction for this type of crime will be dependent on various factors. Some defenses you may be able to use depending on your specific circumstances can include the following.

Misidentification

  • If you are innocent and were misidentified this is a great defense. You should try to obtain a solid alibi with proof and eyewitness testimony.

The defendant did not intend to create fear or distress

  • You may not have realized that your actions could be found to be threatening

The victim was not truly distressed or their fear was not reasonable

  • Part of a stalking charge hinges on the victim’s perception that they were in danger. If there was no justifiable reason that the victim believed they were going to be harmed, it may not be considered stalking

Lack of evidence

  • The prosecution bears the burden of proof, meaning that you do not have to prove your innocence, instead they have to prove your guilt. If their case does not have valid evidence that proves beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime, you should be found not guilty.

Not all of the above defenses will work for you. It will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. You should acquire the services of a skilled lawyer and work with them to determine which defensive strategy will work best for you.

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