Harassment Requires Purposeful Conduct – State v. Duncan

This morning’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Duncan represents one more example in a series of harassment cases where the failure of the prosecution to prove the culpability element beyond a reasonable doubt results in an overturned conviction. In Duncan, the defendant, angered over what he perceived to be an unnecessary police checkpoint roadblock, called 9-1-1 and expressed a loud, profane, coarse and anonymous complaint to the operator. His trials in both the municipal court and Law Division resulted in a conviction. The Appellate division reversed on the basis that the State did not prove that the defendant acted with a purpose of harass. Also, note the warning of the Court on its fear of overextending a criminal law to include rude behavior which is directed toward an institution as opposed to a particular private individual. In essence, mere “venting” does not constitute harassment under the facts of this case.

Download a copy of State v. Duncan

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