Haddonfield Stalking Attorney
New Jersey prosecutors are extremely aggressive when prosecuting stalking charges under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10. Moreover, in some instances, the accused could even face a federal stalking charge, depending upon the facts and circumstances that surround the incident in question. In addition to a stalking charge, the accused could face other certain related charges—including a criminal charge for domestic violence.
Depending upon the nature of the stalking offense and its severity, a conviction for stalking could result in a maximum of five years’ incarceration. Consequently, you should always take a New Jersey stalking charge very seriously.
If you are facing charges of stalking, Haddonfield, New Jersey stalking defense attorney Matthew V. Portella may be able to assist. Attorney Portella will ensure that all of your legal rights remain protected while your criminal case is pending through the system and will advocate your side of the story in the courtroom.
What Is Stalking?
A person may incur a stalking charge if he or she participates in a course of conduct causing a reasonable individual to suffer emotional distress or fear. A “course of conduct” means that the accused, in order to be convicted, must maintain physical or visual proximity to the alleged victim in the case. Stalking can also take the form of electronic communications, such as texting or email.
For example, if the accused sends a text message to someone else, and as a result, the recipient fears for his or her life, then the accused’s act might constitute stalking. This could be true even if the accused was playing a joke on the recipient.
New Jersey prosecutors are very aggressive when it comes to criminal stalking charges. Prosecutors can get ahold of social media posts, texts messages, and other potential evidence, take these communications out of context, and attempt to secure a stalking conviction. Consequently, when you go to court, it is extremely important that you have an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer representing you.
Our stalking attorney Matthew V. Portella may be able to argue a defense to your stalking charge in court by placing the contents of a particular social media post or text message into the proper context.
Degrees of New Jersey Stalking Offenses and Penalties
For a New Jersey prosecutor to obtain a stalking conviction, he or she must be able to assert and establish several legal elements prescribed by the state. Specifically, in order to prove a fourth-degree stalking charge, the prosecutor must be able to prove all of the following criminal elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you knowingly or intentionally took part in a “course of conduct”
- That the “course of conduct” was directed toward a specific individual
- That the “course of conduct” was such that it would cause a reasonable individual to fear for his or her safety (or for someone else’s safety) or suffer from some severe mental anguish or emotional distress
Similarly, a New Jersey prosecutor could secure a conviction for third-degree stalking by proving that the accused stalked the alleged victim in direct violation of a court order that was in existence at that time. For example, if the alleged victim had previously applied for a protective order from stalking, which the court subsequently granted—and the accused continued to stalk the victim—then the accused could be charged with a third-degree crime. Penalties may include:
- Felony conviction on your record
- Three to five years in state prison
- A $15,000 fine
Finally, any person who again faces charges of a subsequent stalking offense could face a third-degree charge (and penalty). This is true even if a court had not previously entered a protective order or other order that prevented the stalking.
The penalties for a stalking conviction in the State of New Jersey can be harsh. If you sustain a criminal conviction for a fourth-degree stalking offense, you could receive a sentence of up to 18 months in jail. For a conviction of third-degree stalking, you are looking at up to five years in jail. In order to develop a strong defense to your stalking charge and potentially avoid some or all of these penalties, you should contact Haddonfield, New Jersey stalking attorney Matthew V. Portella today.
Defending Against a Criminal Stalking Charge
If you are pending trial for criminal stalking in New Jersey, it is vital to your case that you come up with a strong legal defense, if there is any hope of obtaining a dismissal. In stalking cases, key pieces of evidence for the prosecution typically consist of text messages and other potentially private information. If the government violated your Fourth Amendment constitutional rights against unlawful searches and seizures, you could potentially raise that defense before your criminal trial.
In addition, to prove that you committed the crime of stalking, the government must show that you intentionally took part in a “course of conduct” in order to prove you guilty of stalking. Evidence at trial could negate that essential element, at which point your lawyer could ask that the stalking charge—as well as the criminal case—be dismissed in its entirety.
Haddonfield, New Jersey stalking attorney Matthew V. Portella can review your criminal stalking charge from every angle and determine which of these legal defenses (and others) might be applicable to your criminal charge. Attorney Portella may then be able to recommend a dismissal of the stalking charge on your behalf.
Talk to a Haddonfield Stalking Defense Lawyer Today
Stalking charges—even though they do not require proof of physical harm to the alleged victim—can still carry with them serious penalties. In addition to these penalties, you will also likely face serious disruption to your life and potentially negative consequences for your future. Haddonfield, New Jersey stalking attorney Matthew V. Portella is ready to meet with you to discuss your case and set to work on defending it. You have nothing to lose by attending an initial consultation, but you have much to potentially gain.
To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a Haddonfield stalking lawyer, please call us at (856) 310-9800 or contact us online.