Modern technology allows us to communicate with each other online in a myriad of ways. While this connectivity has upsides, it also provides more opportunities for harassment and bullying. In New Jersey, laws have started catching up with online communication and taking it into account in domestic violence and restraining order cases.
Whether you are seeking protection from online abuse or have been accused of online abuse, it's important to know how the courts view online harassment when considering restraining order cases.
Online Harassment in New Jersey
New Jersey law considers harassment and cyber harassment as domestic violence offenses for those in a qualifying domestic relationship. Someone commits cyber harassment when they communicate in an online capacity via any electronic device or through a social networking site, and they do the following:
- Threaten to inflict injury or physical harm to a person or the property of a person
- Knowingly send, post, comment, request, suggest, or propose lewd, indecent, or obscene material with the intention to emotionally harm a reasonable person
- Threaten to commit a crime against a person or a person's property
If you have a qualifying domestic relationship with someone and they commit one of the above acts of cyber harassment, you can file for a restraining order.
Online Communication With a Temporary Restraining Order
When someone requests a restraining order against someone else in New Jersey, the court grants a temporary order. This temporary order stays in place until a final hearing takes place. At the final hearing, the person who requested the order (the plaintiff) must prove there is a predicate act of violence before the judge can grant a final restraining order.
A restraining order prevents someone from contacting the plaintiff at all, online or otherwise. A violation of this no-contact order can lead to criminal charges. But even posting or communicating with other people online can have negative impacts on a restraining order case. For the accused, posting anything that might indicate a preponderance of violence or domestic abuse can be used against them in the final hearing. For the accuser, it's also important not to publish anything online that could incriminate or weaken their argument against the accused.
The information you share publicly online can be used as evidence by the other side at your restraining order hearing, which could ultimately sway the judge in one direction or another. It doesn't have to be considered online harassment to be used as evidence, either.
Work With an Experienced Family Law Attorney
If you're involved with a restraining order based on cyber harassment, it's vital that you pay close attention to what you share online. Working with a family law attorney who's handled countless restraining order cases in New Jersey is one way to ensure that your online presence doesn't jeopardize your restraining order case. Contact the Lento Law Firm by calling 888-535-3686 with your questions about cyber harassment in restraining order cases.