In New Jersey stalking or N.J.S.A 2C:12-10b is considered a serious offense that can lead to a multitude of penalties. While this crime is serious in nature, there are multiple different components that are needed in order to make up a valid stalking charge. N.J.S.A 2C:12-10b states: “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”. In order to commit this offense you must not only act in a way that goes against the statutes “course of conduct”, but you must also do so repeatedly in a way that will cause emotional distress and cause a reasonable person to fear you and your actions.
The most complicated part of the statute would be the course of conduct that one has committed. The course of conduct is defined as: “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”. While some of the language in this section may seem to indicate that simple actions could result in a stalking charge, which is not the case. For example, running into an ex spouse a few times in a supermarket would not constitute “Following, monitoring, observing, and surveilling”. However, if one was to go to the office of that ex-spouse with sole purpose of seeing them, then that would constitute the first aspect of stalking.
The second part of N.J.S.A 2C:12-10b defines stalking as the repeated action of a course of conduct. The word “repeated” being defined as committing this course of conduct on two or more occasions. For example in the case of N.G. v. J.P., 426 N.J.Super. 398, 45 A.3d 371 (N.J. Super., 2012)The defendant was found to have stalked his younger sister by appearing at her house on twenty-nine different occasions and using profanities outside her home towards her. While the course of conduct is clear here, what solidified stalking was the numerous occasions in which the defendant committed those acts.
Finally the last aspect of N.J.S.A 2C:12-10b that must be met would be that one’s repeated course of conduct causes emotional distress or caused a reasonable person to fear either their safety or the safety of a third party. In the case of E.C. v. C.B.T. (N.J. Super. App. Div., 2013), we see this component, as well as the first two components come into play. In this case the defendant confronted his ex at a bar, followed her when she was dropping of a friend, and then threatened to expose a family secret the next day out of anger. The plaintiff had responded by continuing contact, and sending provocative pictures of herself to the defendant after the original predicate acts had ceased, While the trial judge on appeal had granted a restraining order, the appellate division had deemed this not an act of stalking The appellate decision stated while this behavior was immature, it had not been a repeated offense, nor did it cause the defendant emotional distress due to her continued conversation with the plaintiff through text messages and Facebook.
Stalking is a serious offense to be accused of, and to be a victim of. While there are times where innocent people are accused of stalking due to a bitter ex, there are just as many people who have to live in fear of a true stalker. Whether you believe you are being stalked, or are facing accusations of stalking yourself you need professional legal assistance to resolve the matter. At The Law Office of The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC, we have years of experience ensuring the best result for our clients, and can handle your stalking case with the level of care it deserves. If you are currently experiencing issues regarding stalking please contact our office for a free consultation.