Social media is a great way to communicate with friends, loved ones and the wider world. But the wide availability of social media networks and channels opens up the possibilities for much darker communications. Sometimes jilted partners can use these sites as a way to stalk and intimidate. This is especially true during contested divorces. Here’s everything you need to know about cyberstalking and New Jersey divorce proceedings.
Legal Definition of and Penalties for Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking is covered under Section 2C of the State of New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. 2C:33-4.1 defines the crime of cyber-harassment as the act of a person:
- Threatening to inflict injury or physical harm on an individual or the property of an individual.
- Knowingly sending a post, comments, requests, or other communications of obscene, lewd, or indecent materials about a person with the intent of inflicting emotional harm, or a reasonable fear of physical or emotional damage.
- Threatening to commit any crime against a person or their property.
In the State of New Jersey, cyberstalking and cyber-harassment are considered a fourth-degree felony. If the offender is over the age of 21 but pretends to be a minor for the purpose of cyber-harassment, the crime is considered to be a third-degree felony. Fourth-degree crimes in New Jersey carry the potential for severe penalties for those convicted, including a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in a New Jersey prison. Third-degree crimes carry the potential for a $10,000 fine and a prison sentence of between three to five years.
The Ramifications of Cyberstalking in New Jersey Divorce Proceedings
While your controlling and aggressive former spouse may think that stalking or harassing you will stop you from following through with your divorce, you should know that the law is on your side. New Jersey family law courts can grant temporary restraining orders against those who are cyberstalking their exes during divorce. Also known as a TRO, these orders protect victims from any unwanted interactions from those who they allege are disturbing them and can last for the duration of the divorce proceedings, or until a trial is held for the alleged offenses.
A New Jersey family law court judge will also take accusations of cyberstalking, cyberbullying, or cyber-harassment into consideration when ruling on issues relating to child custody – including visitation rights and living arrangements. For these reasons, as well as for your safety and mental health, if you believe you are being cyberstalked or harassed, you should contact an experienced New Jersey law firm immediately.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer Today
Divorce is never enjoyable – especially if cyberstalking or harassment is involved. If you are seeking a divorce, it is always advisable to talk with an experienced divorce lawyer beforehand. Contact the Law Offices of James C. DeZao today at (973) 358-6134 for your free consultation. Our experienced family law attorneys are here to help you through this most difficult of times in your life, and will fight to keep you safe from controlling and dangerous ex-spouses.