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New Jersey Supreme Court curtails criminal harassment statute in State v. Burkert, limiting a common vehicle for domestic violence charges

By Andrew Olesnycky Esq., NJ & NY Criminal Defense Lawyer posted in Domestic Violence, 1st Amendment, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, New Jersey, Charges, Harassment, Family Law on Friday, February 2, 2018

New Jersey’s criminal harassment statute has long occupied the space in which the messiest family law disputes cross over into the realm of criminal law. Although there are indeed many legitimate cases of harassment that deserve punishment, in recent years New Jersey appellate courts increasingly had noted that the harassment statute too often criminalized “ordinary domestic contretemps” – i.e. the non-violent verbal sparring that accompanies the disintegration of a marriage or romantic relationship. In the view of the courts (and many frustrated family law and criminal attorneys), New Jersey’s harassment statute was too permissive in allowing an angry spouse or romantic partner to file criminal or civil domestic violence charges after being subjected to hurtful or vile insults, even where there had been no actual violence or threat of harm. 

Tags: Domestic Violence, 1st Amendment, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, New Jersey, Charges, Harassment, Family Law

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