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Harassment as Grounds for a Restraining Order in New Jersey: An Overview of Reported Cases Part III

The court in the case Pazienza v. Camarata., 381 N.J. Super 173, 183-84 (App.Div.2005) held that a defendant committed an act of harassment under the domestic violence statute when he found the plaintiff’s new phone number and gave her a text message stating that he could see her watching “Desperate Housewives now”. The defendant during his testimony stated that he was not at her home when he sent said text, but he knew that she normally watch said program. Id. Even though the defendant may not have been watching the plaintiff, the court held that the text message was intended to cause “annoyance which means to disturb, irritate, or bother”. Id.

The appellate court in the case C.M.F., v. R.G.F., 396 N.J. Super.396, 404 (App.Div.2011) held that a defendant committed an act of harassment under the domestic violence statute who screamed at the plaintiff calling her a slut, a f__ing bitch, a whore, and a pig in the presence of the parties’ children and the parents of their children’s friends. Even though the defendant was angry over a court order, “the nature of the verbal attack, the manner of its delivery and the attendant circumstances demonstrated a “purpose to harass”. Id at 403.

In the case E.M.B., v. R.F.B., 419 N.J. Super. 177, 182 (App.Div.2011) the Appellate Court held that a son calling his mother a “senile old bitch “was not harassment under the statute. The court found even though said statement was understandably upsetting to the plaintiff, the standard is to not measure the effect of the speech on the victim, but look to the purpose of the party making the statement. Id. Also, the court in E.M.B. held that the fact that the defendant stole his mother’s personal property did constitute harassment because the son did not steal said property with the intent “to alarm or seriously annoy” the plaintiff, but stole the property for his own use.

The court in L.M.F., v. J.A.F., 421 N.J. Super.523, (App.Div.2011) held that a defendant who sent eighteen text messages to his ex-wife inquiring about their daughter’s SAT score did not commit harassment under the statute. The court found that defendant’s purpose was not to harass, and if the ex-wife would have answered him he would have stopped.

The New Jersey Supreme Court held in the case J.D. v. M.D.F., 207 N.J. 458, 486-88 (2011) that a defendant did not commit an act of harassment under the domestic violence statute by taking photos of the plaintiff’s house while he was preparing a motion for change of custody based on the plaintiff’s cohabitation with her boyfriend. The court found no intent to harass by the defendant.

Please see Part I and Part II which are the preceding articles that being the case review of harassment as grounds for a restraining order. Both Parts I and II of this article are found on this website. If you have any questions in reference to a domestic violence case, call Peter Van Aulen, an experienced NJ divorce and domestic violence lawyer, for a free initial consultation.

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