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What is the Difference Between Harassment, Menacing, and Stalking in New York?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

New York City Criminal Defense Attorney

When a disagreement gets out of hand, tempers flare and threats are often made. If the police are convinced that your threatening words or behaviors were sufficient to put the victim in fear for their safety, you could be charged with harassment or menacing. If you continue a pattern of harassing behavior over a period of time, you could be charged with stalking. These are three distinct crimes which are generally charged as misdemeanors but can be elevated to felonies if the behavior is severe enough.

Harassment Definition and Penalties in New York

You commit the crime of harassment when you act intentionally and with no legitimate purpose to cause another person to reasonably fear for their physical safety. Harassment is more of a verbal act than a physical act, and it may be anonymous or not. Harassing acts can include verbal threats to cause physical harm to a person, hang-up calls, or electronic communications. Harassment involves a one-time incident or a few incidents, while stalking involves a repeated pattern of behavior over a period of time. Harassment is generally a class A or B misdemeanor.

Menacing Definition and Penalties in New York

You commit the crime of menacing when you behave in a physically threatening way with the intent of putting another person in fear of imminent physical injury or death.

If you do this with your body, perhaps by putting your fists up and moving toward a person in a threatening way, you can be charged with menacing in the third degree, which is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum jail term of three months or a maximum fine of $500.

The crime is elevated to menacing in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000, if you (a) display a weapon or something that appears to be a gun, (b) commit menacing in the third degree multiple times against the same person, or (c) menace someone in violation of an order of protection. If you commit this offense after having been convicted of it within the past 10 years, the crime is elevated to a class E felony punishable by one to four years in prison. If you commit this offense against a peace officer, the crime is elevated to a class D felony.

Stalking Definition and Penalties in New York

You commit the crime of stalking when you intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, engage in a course of conduct against a specific person that is likely to cause that person to fear for their physical safety or to cause mental or emotional harm to that person. The so-called “course of conduct” must occur over a period of multiple days or weeks; the extended timeframe is what differentiates stalking from harassment. The conduct may consist of repeated following, telephoning, or initiating other communication or contact. Misdemeanor stalking involves behavior that would be considered harassing or alarming. Felony stalking involves direct threats of violence involving a dangerous weapon or actions that result in actual physical injury to the victim.

Manhattan Criminal Defense Attorneys to Fight for You

If you have been accused of harassment, menacing, or stalking, choose a team of aggressive New York City criminal defense lawyers who will stand up for your rights and make sure that your side of the story is heard. Call Watford Jackson, PLLC at 855-WAT-JACK or 855-928-5225.

Source:

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PEN/120.16

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PEN/240.25

 

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