In 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
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