- March 1, 2010
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The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that stalking is stalking, and no showing that the Defendant intended to cause fear is required.
The stalking statutue, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10, was enacted in New Jersey in response to “persistent, distressing or threatening behavior generally perceived as more serious than harassment, at least in its persostence, but not yet ripened into terroristic threats or assualt.” Title 2C NJ Criminal Code Ann. (2007)
N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10(b) reads:
A person is guilty of stalking, a crime in 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 bodily injury to himself or a member of immediate family or death to himself or a member of his immediate family.
The statute includes a “course of conduct” meaning repeated incidents. Repeated is defined as two or more occasions.
Originally the statute included only visual or physical proximity but was later expanded to include “communication” in order to encompass the internet, and other electronic media and devices.
The statute includes not only the observation of the individual but also their “immediate family” which includes any person who regularly resides in their household.
Based upon the terms of the statute then, an example of a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10 would occur in the event that an individual used a social networking site, such as Facebook, to “observe”, by way of information included on such site published or approved by the person being observed in the event that such observation may arouse fear in the individual observed.
The New Jersey Court in State v. Gandhi, held that the statute requires only a showing that the defendant acted in a way that would cause a reasonable person to fear harm or death, and no showing was is required that the defendant intended, or was aware of, the effect of that conduct on the individual observed.
The use of social networking sites greatly expands ones exposure to would be violators of this statute. In the event that an individual is informed by another to cease contact on a social networking site, deleted by another on such a site, twitter, or the like, the individual advised to cease the actions complained of should do som immediately in order to avoid exposure to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10 and similar statutes.
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