SENATE, No. 630

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  NIA H. GILL

District 34 (Essex and Passaic)

Senator  KEVIN J. O'TOOLE

District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Allen, Greenstein, Madden and Beck

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Upgrades crime of stalking when stalking activity is carried out or assisted by installation or use of communication or location monitoring program or device on cellular phone or wireless mobile device.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

 


An Act concerning stalking by means of certain electronic, mechanical, or other devices, or computer programs, and amending P.L.1992, c.209.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 1 of P.L.1992, c.209 (C.2C:12-10) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    a.  As used in this act:

     (1)   "Course of conduct" means repeatedly maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a person; directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, or communicating to or about, a person, or interfering with a person's property; repeatedly committing harassment against a person; or repeatedly conveying, or causing to be conveyed, verbal or written threats or threats conveyed by any other means of communication or threats implied by conduct or a combination thereof directed at or toward a person.

     (2)   "Repeatedly" means on two or more occasions.

     (3)   "Emotional distress" means significant mental suffering or distress.

     (4)   "Cause a reasonable person to fear" means to cause fear which a reasonable victim, similarly situated, would have under the circumstances.

     b.    A person is guilty of stalking, a crime of the fourth degree, if he purposefully or knowingly engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his safety or the safety of a third person or suffer other emotional distress.  Stalking is a crime of the third degree if the person’s course of conduct is carried out or assisted by means of installation or use of any electronic, mechanical or other device as defined in subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1968, c.409 (C.2A:156A-2), or installation or use of a computer program as defined in subsection e. of section 2 of P.L.1984, c.184 (C.2C:20-23), on a cellular phone or wireless mobile device owned, subscribed to, or used by the victim, in order to intercept any form of communication or acquire that communication from electronic storage kept by an electronic communication service or remote computing service, as those terms are defined in subsections p., q., and s. of section 2 of P.L.1968, c.409 (C.2A:156A-2), or to intercept or acquire the victim’s location information.

     c.     A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he commits the crime of stalking in violation of an existing court order prohibiting the behavior.

     d.    A person who commits a second or subsequent offense of stalking against the same victim is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

     e.     A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he commits the crime of stalking while serving a term of imprisonment or while on parole or probation as the result of a conviction for any indictable offense under the laws of this State, any other state or the United States.

     f.     This act shall not apply to conduct which occurs during organized group picketing.

(cf: P.L.2009, c.28, s.1)

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

      This bill upgrades the crime of stalking when the stalking activity is carried out or assisted by installation or use of a communication or location monitoring program or device on the stalking victim’s cellular phone or wireless mobile device.

      A person commits the crime of stalking when the person “purposefully or knowingly engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his safety or the safety of a third person or suffer other emotional distress.”  Stalking is ordinarily graded as a crime of the fourth degree, punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

      Under the bill, if a person’s “course of conduct” in committing the stalking is carried out or assisted by means of installation or use of any communication or location monitoring program or device on the victim’s cellular phone or wireless mobile device in order to intercept or acquire any form of communication or location information, the stalking would be upgraded to a crime of the third degree.  A crime of the third degree is ordinarily punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.

      Communication and location monitoring programs or devices are often preinstalled on cellular phones or wireless mobile devices, or are widely available for download or purchase for such phones or devices, and in some instances are necessary to properly operate or enhance phone or device operations.  Recognizing the wide availability and easy access to these programs and devices, this bill intends to target their improper installation or use in the context of committing acts of stalking.

      The bill replaces the underlying version, which intended to address such stalking activities by making the installation or use of a communication or location monitoring program or device, without consent, a criminal violation of the “New Jersey Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act,” P.L.1968, c.409 (C.2A:156A-1 et seq.).