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Stalking laws in New Jersey

New Jersey law defines stalking as behaviors or actions that can make a person placed in the fear of being injured or killed. This includes activities like making threatening phone calls, repeatedly sending unwanted letters or messages, following a person or appearing at a person's residence or place of work in order to intimidate or threaten someone.

A case of stalking may include one or more of the behaviors described above. It may stem from the end of a long-time relationship, or it can also be perpetrated on a well-known celebrity or other victim who the perpetrator has never even met in person. Under New Jersey law, stalking is classified as a crime of the fourth degree. It can be enhanced to a crime of the third degree if the alleged perpetrator's actions violate a court order or if he or she is imprisoned, on parole or on probation. Repeated stalking offenses are upgraded to a crime of the third degree.

Stalking charges are taken seriously by law enforcement and the courts because stalking behavior is sometimes a precursor to domestic violence. Too often, this conduct can escalate to actual physical violence or attacks. In an effort to prevent this type of behavior from occurring, it may be possible for a stalking victim to obtain a protective order against the perpetrator.

A restraining order is a type of protective order which states that the person engaging in stalking behavior must cease contacting the victim and refrain from future contact. The restraining order may also state that the stalker must maintain a certain physical distance from the victim. A family law attorney may be of assistance in obtaining a protective order for a client who has been victimized by this type of behavior.

Source: Findlaw, "New Jersey Stalking Laws", November 26, 2014

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