Under what circumstances can someone be charged with harassment?

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Under what circumstances can someone be charged with harassment?

I found out that my husband cheated on me with a co-worker of his. I decided to contact her husband via Facebook and let him know what was going on. I also sent her a text message telling her I knew what was going on. She then contacted my husband via text and called me out of my name and said she was going to press charges on me for harassment. Can she really press charges on me? Can I press charges on her for calling me bad names?

Asked on March 1, 2011 under Criminal Law, New Jersey

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Technically these are part of the New Jersey "stalking laws."  Here is the law:

N.J. Stat. § 2C:12-10. Definitions; stalking designated a crime; degrees. (2009)

  1. As used in this act:

(1)  "Course of conduct" means 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.

(2)  "Repeatedly" means on two or more occasions.

(3)  "Emotional distress" means significant mental suffering or distress.

(4)  "Cause a reasonable person to fear" means to cause fear which a reasonable victim, similarly situated, would have under the circumstances.

  1. 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.
  2. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he commits the crime of stalking in violation of an existing court order prohibiting the behavior.
  3. A person who commits a second or subsequent offense of stalking against the same victim is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
  4. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he commits the crime of stalking while serving a term of imprisonment or while on parole or probation as the result of a conviction for any indictable offense under the laws of this State, any other state or the United States.
  5. This act shall not apply to conduct which occurs during organized group picketing.

Would she be fearful for her safety from what you said or did?  Calling someone a bad name is bad breading but really, look at her track record here.  I would not worry but I would stop.  And seek legal help with the divorce.  Good luck to you.


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