The New Jersey Legislature recently added Cyber Harassment to the list of crimes that can be considered an act of domestic violence under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. Cyber Harassment is committed where a person makes a communication in an online capacity through any electronic device or through social media with the purpose of harassing another person if the communication: (a) threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person; (b) knowingly sends posts, comments, requests, suggests, or proposes any lewd, indecent, or obscene material to or about a person with the intent to emotionally harm a reasonable person or place a reasonable person in fear of physical or emotional harm to his person; or (c) threatens to commit any crime against the person or the person’s property. NJSA 2C:33-4.1(a).
Based on Cyber Harassment’s inclusion as an offense under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, if your spouse, former spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend threatens you or posts something about you online or on social media, that is offensive, that person could be found to have committed an act of domestic violence. Furthermore, if a spouse, former spouse, or girlfriend or boyfriend posts nude or compromising pictures of you online or on social media, that person could also be found to have committed an act of domestic violence. The New Jersey Legislature’s action on this issue should be commended. However, the question remains as to whether this amendment will hold people accountable and ensure that people who commit such acts face the appropriate consequences and are prohibited from committing further acts of domestic violence in the future. In fact, many websites allow people to post offensive comments, pictures and obscene material about others on line anonymously, which makes it very difficult to prove that the person who you believe posted the material actually posted it. However, by utilizing an expert, there are ways to obtain proof to establish that the person suspected of posting the material in fact posted it, albeit, at an expense. As such issues are very serious and could be quite harmful to a person’s personal and professional reputation, it may be worth the cost.
If you or someone you know has a question regarding cyber harassment or domestic violence, then please call the skilled family and divorce lawyers in New Jersey at the Law Office of Lyons & Associates. At the law office of Lyons & Associates, we represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail, submit an online inquiry, or call our offices at 908-575-9777.
WRITTEN BY: MARK T. GABRIEL, ESQ.