Understanding Pennsylvania’s Stalking Laws

understanding-pennsylvanias-stalking-lawsIn recent years, the state of Pennsylvania, like many other jurisdictions, has taken a strong stance against activities considered to be stalking or harassment. Under Pennsylvania law, stalking typically involves a pattern of activity, rather than a single incident. Section 2709.1 of Title 18 defines stalking as a “course of conduct or repeated acts without authorization with intent to place [a person]in reasonable fear or cause substantial emotional distress. In addition, it can be obvious and direct or more subtle, from visible confrontations or following to things like unwanted gifts, unsolicited phone calls or other forms of attention.

There’s a requirement under the Pennsylvania law that the victim of stalking show that the harassment resulted in some level of emotional distress. This is typically determined by the judge or jury, based on the facts. In most instances, a first charge of stalking will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor in the 1st degree. However, if the defendant has any prior convictions for stalking, the charges can be far more serious, and can rise to the level of a 3rd degree felony.

It’s pretty common, when a person is charged with stalking, for the victim to ask the court to issue a restraining or protective order. Such an order typically requires the “stalker” to stay a minimum distance from the victim, from the victim’s home and work, and from other places the victim is known to go. It can also limit or ban certain types of contact, including mail, phone or Internet, and can make it a violation of the order to send anything to the victim. Violation of the order is considered contempt of court and can lead to substantial fines, as well as incarceration.

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

You don’t have to lose your license or go to jail. Let attorney Greenberg fight to protect your rights!

Your first consultation is free. We’ll meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We take all credit cards, as well as PayPal.

For an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 855-598-3650.

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015
by
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Harassment as a Disorderly Persons Offense

harassment-as-a-disorderly-persons-offenseIn the heat of a dispute, your emotions can get the best of you and you can say or do things you regret later. Often, that can take the form of epithets or profane language, and your anger may even cause you to threaten physical harm to another person. You need to be careful, though, as you might engage in acts that would be considered harassment under New Jersey law.

Under NJSA 2C: 33-34, you can be charged with the disorderly persons offense of harassment if you do any of the following with the intent of harassing another person:

  • Cause or make anonymous communications to that person
  • Communicate with or to that person at inconvenient hours
  • Communicate with that person in coarse language
  • Engage in any other conduct likely to cause alarm in another person

It is also considered harassment if you strike, kick, shove or offensively touch another person, or if you simply threaten to commit any of those acts for the purpose of harassing someone. You can also be charged with harassment for engaging in any course of conduct or repeated acts designed to alarm or annoy another person.

In most instances, harassment is considered a petty disorderly persons offense, with a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. However, there are two situations where harassment will automatically be bumped up to a fourth degree crime:

  • If your intention was to intimidate or harass a person because of his or her race, color, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or status as handicapped
  • If, at the time you engaged in the harassment, you were either incarcerated or on parole/probation for an indictable offense

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

Don’t go to jail. We will fight to protect your rights!
There’s no charge for your first consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings and weekends, if necessary, and can travel to your home or to detention to discuss your case. We accept all credit cards, as well as PayPal.

To schedule an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 855-598-3650.

Named One of the Top 100 New Jersey Criminal Trial Lawyers in 2015
by
The American Society of Legal Advocates