Fourth Degree Stalking

Irrespective of the legal analysis, any degree of Stalking is a significant crime with grave consequences both within the criminal justice system and collaterally to careers, professional certifications and legal statuses. While it may be the lowest of New York’s Stalking crimes, New York Penal Law 120.45, Fourth Degree Stalking, by no means is a low-level offense. A class “B” misdemeanor, Fourth Degree Stalking is punishable by as much as 90 days in county jail. Should that conviction occur in a New York City criminal court, those 90 days will be spent on the infamous Rikers Island. A walk in the park it is not. Of equal, if not greater concern, a conviction for PL 120.45 will result in a criminal record that won’t go away in a year or two or later be expunged. Simply, a conviction is forever and available for employers and all to see.

Not only is Fourth Degree Stalking a separate and distinct offense from the other degrees of this offense, but its criminal elements stand on their own. As a preliminary matter, you are guilty of Stalking in the Fourth Degree if you intentionally engage in a course of conduct for no legitimate purpose. This course of conduct must also be directed at a specific person and you should know, or reasonably should know, that your conduct:

  • is likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property of the targeted person or their respective immediate family of an acquainted third party; or
  • based in following, calling, or initiating communication or contact with the target person, his or her immediate family or an acquainted third party, you cause material harm to their mental or emotional health and you previously and clearly were advised to cease contact; or
  • is likely to cause your target to reasonably fear for his or her career, business or employment because you have called, initiated or appeared at your target’s place of business and you previously and clearly were advised to cease such conduct.

As reflected above, New York Stalking laws do not mandate that you in fact cause the person a material harm or job loss, but that your conduct is likely to cause a reasonable fear of the same. Further, for the purpose of following a person as reflected in the second bullet, your following need not be physical and personal. The law specifically allows for unauthorized tracking devices to satisfy the “following” element of the crime.

Fourth Degree Stalking: Other Issues

While there are countless “other issues” involving a Fourth Degree Stalking arrest that you and your criminal lawyer can and should address, know that at your arraignment a judge will issue an order of protection and the violation of such an order can result in either a misdemeanor or felony arrest for Criminal Contempt. Further, because any degree of Stalking is a victim crime, expect that the prosecution will ask for some amount of bail. Other concerns for individuals charged with PL 120.45 whether by Desk Appearance Ticket or full processing from the precinct to the Tombs of Central Booking, are those involving how an arrest for Stalking can impact professional licenses and certifications as well as how your visa, green card or other legal status can be compromised by what can potentially be a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude.

At bottom, any criminal allegation is potentially life altering even if you are later exonerated. From an indelible criminal record and the issuance of an order of protection or restraining order to adverse impacts to your livelihood and legal status, Fourth Degree Stalking deserves your attention in its entirety. Failure to work with your criminal defense attorney and take the steps to protect yourself today can, and very likely will, leave you with a lifetime of regret and an ugly criminal record.

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

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