Dismissing Harassment Charges: Avoid A Humiliating Conviction

Dismissin Harassment Charges

Dismissing harassment charges is possible. These are extremely common charges in New Jersey. If you have are facing Simple Assault, Terroristic Threat, Stalking, or Criminal Mischief charges, chances are good that you also have a Harassment charge.

Where do Harassment Charges come from?

Harassment charges seem to always arise from a “relationship gone bad”.
It’s common to see people in toxic relationships bring their personal vendettas to court.
While many crimes like assault, resisting arrest, obstruction, and eluding involve interfering with law enforcement, harassment charges stem from toxic relationships.
It’s either your neighbor from hell or an ex-boyfriend who can’t move on.

As criminal defense lawyers, every client asks us about dismissing harassment charges.

Our mission is always the same: if it’s possible, let’s get this nonsense dismissed.

Step 1 - Start with the complaint

Dismissing harassment charges starts with reviewing your complaint.
Here’s a Sample Harassment Complaint from New Jersey.
(Important sections are highlighted)

Criminal complaints in New Jersey provide a lot of information.
For example, they identify the date that you allegedly committed harassment, the jurisdiction (location), names of witnesses, and of course the name of the alleged victim. (We redacted names in our sample)

In most criminal complaints, you will also find some information regarding the acts you committed for which you are being charged.

Step 2 - identify which section applies to you

In New Jersey, there are three subsections to the 2C:33-4 Harassment charge.

  • 1. Annoying Communications
  • 2. Offensive Touching
  • 3. Intent to Cause Alarm

In our sample complaint, we’ve highlighted the section of the law in Green.
In this case, our client was charged with 2C:33-4 Subsection C. “Cause to Alarm” the victim.

Step 3 - be clear about your role.
Did you intend to "harass"?

After identifying the section of the law that applies to you, the third step in dismissing harassment charges involves asking yourself questions.

Be clear on what you may have done to give rise to your harassment charge.

Some examples are:

1. Sending text messages at inconvenient hours i.e., 2 a.m.
2. Pointing your finger in someone’s face in a menacing way
3. Making anonymous & threatening calls
4. Repeatedly ringing someone’s doorbell and running away

Once you sit down with your criminal defense lawyer, tell him the truth.

Everything you discuss with your lawyer is privileged & confidential.
You should feel safe in knowing that your side of the story will not be shared with anyone.
For example, if you’ve been charged with harassment for violating a Restraining Order, your lawyer should know this.
Now let’s turn to four strategies for dismissing your harassment charges.

Don't Feel Like Reading?

We created a helpful video that simply & clearly explains different strategies & approaches for dismissing harassment charges.

4 Legal Ways For Dismissing Harassment Charges

1 - Insufficient or New Evidence

Remember, your arrest is the starting point of your criminal case.
Harassment cases can take weeks and sometimes months.
A lot happens while your case is pending. The prosecution can dismiss your criminal charges after your criminal lawyer provides new evidence.
That’s right!
As your lawyers, we conduct our own investigation of your case.
For example, once we obtain evidence that shows it was impossible for you to text the victim at 3 a.m., we hand that over to the prosecutor.
We find the evidence which proves your innocence & we show it to the prosecutor.
As a result, they decide that the evidence against you is weak.
It’s important to emphasize the role of your criminal lawyer here.

2 - Request a Prosecutor Conference

A conference with the prosecutor is slightly different than plea bargaining.
Contrary to Hollywood movies, criminal lawyers & prosecutors have good, healthy, professional relationships.
We both chose the area of criminal law and we care about justice.
It is during these Pretrial Conferences that we get to openly discuss your case.
Think of it as you would a movie trailer.
It’s the preview of what’s to come. We know that it’s going to be an action movie but we want to see some clips before we watch it.
A member of our defense team will schedule some time with the prosecutor to review evidence, share perspectives, and discuss the pertinent law.
Quite often we’re able to persuade the prosecutor that he doesn’t have a case.
As a result, it gets dismissed!

3 - Dismissming Harassment Charges Through Mediation

It may not be the most appealing choice, but mediation is a great strategy for dismissing harassment charges.
Mediation is a court-ordered program that involves bringing both parties to the table.
Let’s say that your neighbor filed harassment charges over an ongoing fence dispute.
One thing leads to another and the next thing you know he marches down to the police station and files a harassment complaint.
Of course, you didn’t do anything criminal so your matter doesn’t belong in criminal court.
Your defense attorney and the prosecutor will join together and ask the court to send the matter to mediation.
During mediation, another lawyer (mediator) will guide the conversation towards a peaceful resolution.
At the end of the whole process, the mediator may push towards dismissing harassment charges.
Hey, it’s worth a shot, right?

4 - Pay A Fine

If the evidence against you is weak, but the prosecutor won’t dismiss your case, then your lawyer can fight for a reduced charge.
It may not be the result you wanted, but it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Your case is resolved and your nightmare is over.
A harassment charge can be downgraded to a local ordinance charge.
If this happens, jail is off the table.
You pay a fine & you’ll be relieved that the case is over.
Of course, our mission is dismissing your harassment charges, but a reduced charge can also be a home run!

Final Thoughts

A Harassment charge in NJ is a Petty Disorderly Persons offense. Maximum penalties include up to 30 days in jail & up to $500-fine.

If your facing harassment charges, keep calm, it’s a very common charge.

 As discussed, there are many ways to approach dismissing harassment charges. 
But, it is important to find a lawyer who is right for you.
Since it’s such an important decision, take the time to do some basic research.
Once you’ve found a few lawyers you’d like to meet, check to see if they have any client reviews.
At our firm, before a client hires us, we always encourage them to visit our Client Reviews.

Please visit the Areas We Serve & Practice Areas pages for more information.

  • Need Help With Your Harassment Charges?

Contact Us For A FREE Consultation.

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How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

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Areas We Serve

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.