Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation: NY Penal Law 121.11

You need not punch another person with a closed fist that opens up a gaping wound to find yourself arrested for and charged with a misdemeanor violent crime such as Third Degree Assault. In fact, whether or not you leave any mark, swelling, a deep laceration or scar, if you “attack” another person – man, woman or child – and don’t leave any type of physical injury at all, the police can still arrest you for New York Penal Law 121.11 depending on the allegations and circumstances. NY Penal Law 121.11, Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation, is a crime that not only will land you before a criminal court judge in New York City or a local judge in municipalities throughout the Hudson Valley in Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester and Orange counties, but an offense that has a potential punishment and penalty of one year in jail. Irrespective of the sentence and whether it is on Rikers Island or either the Rockland or Westchester County Jail, be prepared with your criminal defense lawyer to respond to bail applications and orders of protection requested by the District Attorney.

Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation: The Elements

A person is guilty of New York Penal Law section 121.11 when he or she intends to block the normal breathing of a victim or the circulation of that person’s blood. While this offense can happen in a variety of ways, there are additional elements. You, the accused, must hamper the complainant’s breathing or blood circulation and do so by either (a) applying pressure on the person’s throat or neck or by (b) blocking that person’s nose or mouth. The law does not differentiate between using your hand, a pillow or any other object although, depending on the dangerous instrument used, you could also face equal or more serious charges in addition to Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation in certain circumstances. For example, if you ultimately cause a physical injury and to facilitate the crime you used a rope, shoelace or bag, the “tools” of the crime can elevate the offense to a felony Second Degree Assault. For that matter, if you cause a physical or serious physical injury, prosecutors can potentially charge you with the felony of either Second Degree Strangulation or First Degree Strangulation respectively.

One of the critically important elements of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation is the element of intent. If your intent, for example, is to quiet a person to stop that person from yelling because you are in a heated argument, then arguably your intent was not to impede their breathing when you put your hand on his or her mouth. Moreover, if you were attempting to provide medical attention, such a defense is codified in New York Penal Law Article 121. Whatever your potential defense may be, if you do not have the right criminal lawyer to advocate on your behalf, that defense will fall far short of resolving your criminal case while leaving you exposed to countless collateral consequences.

Regardless of the accusation and whether it involves Domestic Violence, an arrest for PL 121.11 is quite serious and destructive to one’s life even without a conviction. When accused of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation in either the domestic or non-domestic context, don’t let the criminal allegations get too far ahead of you before you identify and implement the strongest and most viable defense.

Keep under control, contact the best advocate and criminal lawyer and prepare yourself for what is a frightening, but potentially surmountable, situation.

Call the New York criminal defense attorneys and former New York prosecutors at (212) 312–7129 or contact us online today

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