UPDATE: The bill was signed into law on Monday, Dec. 5 by Gov. Chris Christie.
Victims of cyber harassment may soon be able to obtain restraining orders against their harassers. A bill proposed on September 24 would classify the crime as a form of domestic violence. The law was passed a majority vote in both the state senate and legislature.
The bill now awaits a vote by Gov. Chris Christie. It is unknown how likely he is to sign or veto the measure.
New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act covers 18 offenses, including stalking, robbery, and assault, but there is no mention of Internet-related crimes or harassment. This is not the first time lawmakers have attempted to allow restraining orders for cyber harassment.
Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington), one of the bill’s sponsors, said, “When social media and other online sites are used to harass someone, it can be a real nightmare for the victims. Their tormentors can use these tools as a way to attack and humiliate them, often in very public ways.”
In 2014, New Jersey made cyber harassment a crime under statute N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4.1. Cyber harassment is defined as any kind of online communications meant to harm, annoy, or threaten a person. It is a felony and can be charged as either a third or fourth degree offense, depending on the ages of the individuals involved. Punishment for a conviction varies based on the circumstances, but is typically up to 18 months in prison and fines that can run as much as $10,000. For a conviction of cyber harassment in the third-degree, fines are even higher and consequences can include a sentence of three to five years.
If you or a loved one has been accused of cyber harassment, violating a restraining order, or wishes to have a restraining order against you removed, contact an attorney to get the results you are looking for. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are prominent criminal defense attorneys that have handled numerous cases involving restraining orders in New Jersey. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-815-3649 for a free consultation about your case today.