First Degree Coercion

Significantly more serious than the misdemeanor offense, First Degree Coercion is a felony crime. In fact, New York Penal Law 135.65 is a class “D” felony with a sentence as great as two and one third to seven years in prison. The difference between the two crimes are straight forward on their respective faces, although, in the realm of New York criminal law there are always issues at play beyond the words of a criminal statute.

You are guilty of First Degree Coercion if you commit the crime of Second Degree Coercion and you also:

  • (1) Instill fear in your intended victim that you will cause a physical injury to that person or cause damage to their property; or
  • (2) You compel your intended victim to:
    1. Commit or attempt to commit a felony; or
    2. Cause or attempt to cause physical injury to another person; or
    3. Violate his duty as a public servant.

Although the statutory language of First Degree Coercion and Second Degree Coercion are different, it is important to note that PL 135.65 shares two elements with its lesser sibling. Therefore, prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office will have the discretion to charge you with either a felony or misdemeanor in the event you compelled a person to act in a manner you seek and you do so because you threatened that you would damage their property or cause them some form of physical injury.

Remember, Coercion in any degree is not the same thing as either Extortion or Blackmail by Grand Larceny. Coercion is the threat to induce someone to do something they have a right to abstain from or the reverse. Extortion is a crime that can be equal or greater in terms of punishment and involves many similar elements, but Blackmail mandates that the accused secure property from his or her victim.

Regardless of the degree of Coercion you may be prosecuted for and irrespective of whether a Grand Jury indicts you for a felony, judges, juries and prosecutors often have little patience for one party blatantly victimizing another. Is there a misunderstanding? Are you actually the victim? What evidence exists beyond the words of the complainant? Is there a video, text message, voice recording or even a witness to corroborate the threat attributed to you?

Whatever your defense may be, a “D” felony First Degree Coercion charge is one that requires significant review and a defense that is orchestrated in a manner that will put you in a position to best challenge the allegations. Failure to do may or may not leave you incarcerated, but will saddle you with a life altering and career decimating criminal record.

Call our criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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