New York Coercion Crimes

Coercion, Extortion and Blackmail all seem like very similar crimes. At bottom, while Extortion is threatening and intimidating a person into giving you property such as money, Coercion is compelling a person to engage in certain conduct or to refrain from the same. Outside of the fact that these statutes share many commonalities, one of the greatest differences between them is that no matter the facts, Grand Larceny by Extortion is always a felony. Yes, prosecutors can elevate an Extortion based on the value of the property from a crime punishable by as little as four years to one with a permitted sentence of 25 years, but the same is not available for cases involving Coercion. Nonetheless, a District Attorney can prosecute Coercion as either a misdemeanor crime or a felony. Simply, Coercion is a crime that is vigorously prosecuted when the elements are met and few prosecutors or judges will sympathize post-conviction with an individual guilty of either the misdemeanor or felony crime.

Second Degree Coercion: NY PL 135.60

Second Degree Coercion, New York Penal Law 135.60, occurs when you induce or compel a person to engage in particular conduct that he or she has every legal right not to. Alternatively, you compel or induce this person to refrain or abstain from conduct he or she is legally allowed to pursue. Although it really does not need delineation, compelling a person to join a group, organization or criminal enterprise would also run afoul of the law where that person had a right to abstain from joining. Coupled with one of the above actions, the means by which you compel a person to abstain or engage in conduct must be based in a fear that if he or she does not comply you will take certain acts against this person as follows:

  • (1) Cause the person a physical injury. This injury need only be nominal and cause a substantial pain. The threat need not be something as serious as disfigurement, death or an injury as a result of a weapon.
  • (2) Cause damage to their property. This damage is not complete destruction of property or an act that render the property useless or inoperable.
  • (3) Engage in conduct constituting a crime. It is irrelevant whether the criminal conduct is a misdemeanor or felony.
  • (4) Accuse a person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be brought. Again, it is irrelevant whether the accusation is regarding a misdemeanor or felony or whether or not the person is ultimately convicted of a crime.
  • (5) Whether true or not, expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact. This act must subject the person to contempt or ridicule.
  • (6) Cause a strike or boycott against a person’s business. This section would not be applicable if the compulsion and threat of injurious boycott was to the benefit of the group whose interest you purport to be compelling for.
  • (7) Testify, provide information or withhold information with respect to that person’s legal claim.
  • (8) Abuse your position as a public servant by performing of not performing an act related to your work in a manner that adversely affects that person.
  • (9) Perform any act that would not in itself materially benefit you but is calculated to harm the person with respect to his or her health, safety, business, career, finances, reputation or personal relationships.

A class “A” misdemeanor, Second Degree Coercion is punishable by up to one year in jail. If the arrest and conviction is in New York City – Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx – the year is served on Rikers Island. In the event the conviction for PL 135.60 is in Westchester County – Yonkers, White Plains, or another municipality – the year is served in Valhalla’s Westchester County jail.

It is critical to recognize, and something you absolutely should discuss with your criminal lawyer, that the felony crime of First Degree Coercion shares the exact element of inducing a person to act in such a manner due to a threat of causing them a physical injury or damaging their property. Why is this so important? Your misdemeanor conduct can potentially be prosecuted as a class “D” felony. Regardless of the offense, however, Coercion is a crime that not only can land an accused a sentence of incarceration, but decimate his or her career and reputation.

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

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