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Harassment Defense Lawyer in Edison, NJ

Have the police arrested you and charged you with criminal harassment in Edison, New Jersey? Although criminal harassment may not seem like a serious offense, the consequences of a conviction could have a long-lasting impact on your life. You need experienced legal counsel from William Proetta Criminal Law to help you resolve your charges.

Our law offices exclusively defend individuals facing criminal charges. We’ve represented thousands of clients in Middlesex County and throughout New Jersey. We treat each client with the care and respect they deserve, giving them an honest assessment of their case and the information they need to make informed decisions about seeking a favorable outcome.

When facing criminal charges of harassment in Edison, having a dedicated defense attorney on your side can make a difference in the outcome of your case. Contact William Proetta Criminal Law for a free consultation with an Edison harassment defense lawyer. The claim review is totally confidential and comes without any further obligations.

Understanding Harassment Offenses in Edison, New Jersey

New Jersey’s criminal harassment statute makes it illegal for a person to harass another person by:

  • Making one or more communications anonymously, at extremely inconvenient hours, with offensive language, or in any other manner likely to annoy or alarm
  • Striking, kicking, or shoving another person, engaging in any other form of offensive touching, or threatening to do so
  • Engaging in a course of alarming conduct or repeatedly committing acts intended to alarm or seriously annoy another person

New Jersey law grades criminal harassment as a petty disorderly persons offense by default. That is similar to what other states call a misdemeanor. However, the offense gets upgraded to a fourth-degree crime if the offender commits the act while on parole or probation for a conviction on an indictable offense or knowingly directs the act to a current or former judge relating to the judge’s performance of their public duties.

Types of Criminal Harassment in New Jersey

While criminal harassment typically occurs in the context of a domestic, dating, or familial relationship, it may also occur among friends, neighbors, co-workers, or strangers. Various actions may constitute criminal harassment, including:

  • Making phone calls
  • Sending emails or text messages
  • Making social media posts or sending direct messages on social media
  • Assaulting a person or threatening to do so
  • Making threats toward a victim or their family, friends, or property
  • Engaging in unwanted touching
  • Engaging in behaviors designed to annoy or alarm someone

Navigating Penalties for Harassment in Edison

Like other petty disorderly persons offenses, a conviction for criminal harassment in New Jersey carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a potential fine of up to $500. However, a person convicted of fourth-degree criminal harassment may face a prison term of up to 18 months and a potential fine of up to $10,000. Convicted defendants may also have to pay court costs and other fees.

Depending on the circumstances of a criminal harassment offense, an offender may face prosecution for additional crimes, such as criminal contempt of a restraining order, if the offender is subject to a restraining order and harasses a person protected by the order.

A criminal harassment conviction also means having a criminal record that will show up on background checks. A criminal record can prevent a person from obtaining employment, housing, and financial services. Fortunately, New Jersey allows offenders to expunge their criminal record if they meet specific requirements.

Exploring the Benefits of Expunging a Harassment Conviction in Edison

In New Jersey, individuals with criminal records can request expungement of the records. Expungement involves removing, sealing, impounding, or isolating all records on file with a law enforcement agency, court, or correctional facility, including arrest records, court proceedings, and conviction and sentencing records.

A person may apply for expungement if they have no more than five disorderly and petty disorderly persons convictions or one conviction for an indictable crime (felony) and no more than three disorderly and petty disorderly persons convictions. An applicant must wait at least five years after their last conviction or after completing the sentence on that conviction to petition for expungement. The applicant must file their petition with the court in the county where their most recent conviction occurred.

Expungement of a criminal harassment conviction means the record of the conviction is sealed from public access. Thus, the record will not appear in background checks for housing, employment, or financial services. Depending on the circumstances, a person may also have the right to omit the arrest and conviction from applications or interviews.

Addressing FAQs About New Jersey Harassment Law

Common questions about New Jersey’s criminal harassment laws include:

What constitutes harassment in New Jersey?

Criminal harassment in New Jersey occurs when a person targets someone else with actions or behavior designed to alarm, annoy, or terrorize another person or to put them in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their loved ones or property. Examples of behavior that may constitute harassment include:

  • Sending dozens or hundreds of text messages or emails
  • Repeatedly calling someone or calling them in the middle of the night
  • Using threatening or offensively coarse language when communicating with someone
  • Touching someone in an unwanted or offensive manner

How do you prove harassment in New Jersey?

To prove criminal harassment, the prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant engaged in conduct described by the criminal harassment statute and did so to annoy or alarm others. For example, contacting someone to recover property or money usually would not constitute harassment. However, calling them in the middle of the night, even ostensibly to recover your property or money, may constitute harassment if the prosecution can prove that the person intended for the communication to annoy or alarm the recipient.

Evidence proving criminal harassment usually includes copies of the communications giving rise to the charges, victim or eyewitness testimony, cell phone, email, and social media records, or surveillance footage.

Contact William Proetta, Your Trusted Edison Harassment Defense Lawyer

If you were arrested and charged with criminal harassment in New Jersey, you need experienced legal representation to defend your rights, reputation, freedom, and future. Contact William Proetta Criminal Law today for a free initial consultation to discuss your legal options for resolving your charges with an Edison, NJ, harassment lawyer.