Stalking Statute (Part 3)

by | Apr 24, 2019 | Blog, Criminal Law, Know Your Rights

The Appellate Division continued: Defendant posted multiple videos in the MonkeyCom series to YouTube. The “RU Burger Farms” and “Coming Soon” videos could reasonably be interpreted as expressing defendant’s intent to kill and consume J.R.’s dog, whom she had specifically purchased to protect her from defendant. Defendant’s lewd comments about J.R.’s alleged sexual acts in another video were not “common knowledge” irrespective of their truth or falsity. The tagging of J.R. on the MonkeyCom videos that defendant knew she would see via a Google alert initiated “electronic . . . contact with J.R.” in violation of the ITRO. J.R. was identified by name as a “criminal at large.” Other videos suggested J.R. suffered from mental illness. Because we agree that defendant’s conduct was integral to contempt of the restraining order, and harassing, it was not protected under the First Amendment or the New Jersey Constitution. Therefore, as applied to defendant, the statute was not unconstitutionally overbroad.

Defendant claims the anti-stalking statute is unconstitutionally vague both on its face and as applied to him. When an overbreadth challenge is rejected, “the court should then examine the facial vagueness challenge and, assuming the enactment implicates no constitutionally protected conduct, should uphold the challenge only if the enactment is impermissibly vague in all of its applications.” However, a party “who engages in some conduct that is clearly proscribed cannot complain of the vagueness of the law as applied to the conduct of others.” Ibid. (quoting Hoffman Estates, 455 U.S. at 494-95). Thus, it is defendant’s conduct that must be analyzed not “hypothetical applications of the law.” Ibid. (quoting Hoffman Estates, 455 U.S. at 494-95). Because we conclude the statute is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to defendant, we have no need to address whether the statute is unconstitutionally vague on its face.

The Court’s refusal to consider “hypothetical applications of the law” is consistent with the efficient administration of justice. They are busy enough deciding actual cases. The refusal is also consistent with precedent requiring courts to only reach constitutional issues if it is necessary to do so.