In an opinion released this week, the New Jersey Appellate Division (E.K. v. B.B) upheld the issuance of a Final restraining order against a father who harassed this mother of his children contrary to N.J.S.A 2C:33-4 by sending several text messages.
He called her “a whore”, “a bitch”, “fat”, a “horrible mom” and indicated that “the children would be better off without her and he wished that she were dead.” The plaintiff felt threatened by these messages and... defendant’s increasing anger. She also felt harassed by those messages and his escalating anger.
The Court upheld the issuance of a Restraining order although there were no allegations of physical threats and no violence occurred.
Citizens must be aware that their words alone can justify the issuance of a Final restraining order and be aware that text messages alone can be sufficient.
The harassment statute provides, in pertinent part: a person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, with purpose to harass another, he/or she:
a. Makes, or causes to be made, a communication anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
b. subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or
c. engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.
In applying this statute, “the words and phrases used by the Legislature should be accorded their normal and accepted connotations as well as their ordinary and well understood meanings.” Hoffman, 149 N.J. at 580. Therefore, the term “harass” must be given its ordinary meaning which “includes: ‘annoy’: ‘torment’: ‘wear out’ and ‘exhaust.’” State v. Castagna, 387 N.J. Super 598, 607 (App. Div. 2006)
If you have a temporary restraining order issued against you call Kevin Hewitt or one of Wronko Loewen Benucci’s experienced Domestic Violence/Harassment attorneys.