The Appellate Division of the New Jersey State Superior Court recently ruled that repeated, angry text messages from one divorced parent to another do not necessarily rise to the level of harassment for purposes of obtaining a Final Restraining Order under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.

The Trial (lower) Court granted the Final Restraining Order on the basis of the number of texts sent, as well as certain vulgarities contained in the messages.  The text messages in question, eighteen (18) in total, sent over a period of roughly five (5) hours, mostly concerned parenting issues regarding their two (2) children, ages 19 and 17.  Although the texts were numerous and contained offensive language, the Appellate Court held that the messages were not sent with purpose to harass, an essential fact that must be proven and found by a court before a determination of harassment can me made.  Rather, although they might have been vulgar to some degree, the texts were sent out of sheer frustration by the ex-husband over of not being kept apprised of developements and events in the childrens' lives; therefore, they were not sent with the requisite intent to harass.  As such, the Appellate Court overruled the Trial Court, and vacated the Final Restraining Order.

Once again, the Appellate Division properly analyzed the harassment statute along with the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, and rightly concluded that a finding of purpose to harass is essential before a Final Restraining Order based upon harassment may be granted.    

If you have been charged with an act of domestic violence or served with a Restraining Order in Monmouth or Ocean Counties, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.