New York Stalking Crimes
A New York law firm dedicated to representing both those accused and victims of Stalking, experience has taught our criminal attorneys that there are few allegations as frightening to a complainant and as life altering to a defendant than this set of offenses. Whether the crime you are arrested for involves a violation of New York Penal Law 120.45, 120.50, 120.55 or 120.60, a conviction for any of these offenses involves a very real risk of incarceration. Even if your defense lawyer convinces a judge to refrain from putting you in jail or sentencing you to prison, you should expect that prosecutors will seek and the court will grant an Order of Protection, aka, Restraining Order. If your arrest or conviction is considered one involving Domestic Violence, many other collateral issues will come into play as well. While an accusation in court is not the same as being proven guilty, the severity of any misdemeanor or felony plea remains on your record in perpetuity.General Definition and Elements
Irrespective of the charge you face, one of the common elements shared among the degrees of this statute is that you, the accused, have been or currently are engaged in a course of conduct directed at another person. The next inquiry or elements that can elevate the crime from misdemeanor to felony is whether your alleged target feared serious physical injury, material harm, for his or her safety, or even death. At any point did you brandish a weapon or use a dangerous instrument? Do you already have a criminal record for certain specified offenses? All of these factors, and others, can potentially elevate not merely the degree, but the associated sentences and punishment.Penalties and Punishment
The penalties for Stalking depend on the degree which you have pleaded or been convicted of at trial. Charges range from class “B” misdemeanors as the least severe to class “D” felonies as the most significant. The possible sentences, and statutes further defined in the below links, are as follows:
Fourth Degree Stalking, NY PL 120.45, is a class “B” misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in a local jail such as Rikers Island.
Third Degree Stalking, NY PL 120.50, is a class “A” misdemeanor with a possible sentence of up to one year in a local jail.
Second Degree Stalking, NY PL 120.55, is a class “E” felony with a potential of four years in state prison.
First Degree Stalking, NY PL 120.60, the most significant of these crimes, is a class “D” felony punishable by as long as seven years incarceration.
Alternative sentences including probation, a conditional discharge, fines, and community service are all possible if your counsel can convince the prosecution to make such an offer or a judge to allow such sentence. Keep in mind it is almost guaranteed that part of any disposition will include an Order of Protection or Restraining Order.Examples and Scenarios
Without going into all the details, an arrest can involve an alleged scorned lover or obsessed former intimate partner irrespective of age or gender. Similarly, an accused stalker could be pursuing a celebrity or other person in the public eye. Obviously, the nature or dynamic of the relationship, or lack thereof, differ, but the elements of the offense remains the same. As such, if you repeatedly go to another person’s workplace, follow him or her in public places, send emails, tweets, or old fashion letters professing your love to a stranger or threatening harm to another party, or call in a repeated and harassing manner despite being told to cease, you likely have violated the law. Remember, words and actions are important. If you threaten to kill or use some form of weapon to further your fearful manipulation you likely will increase your exposure.Potential Defenses
Every case is extremely unique and fact-specific. There is often an immense amount of complex background and context that the police and prosecutors will almost surely never have in front of them when deciding whether or not to make an arrest or move forward with criminal charges. At bottom, merely because you have not gotten over a damaged or terminated relationship or you have become a zealous fan of a celebrity, does not mean you have violated the law. Might you have crossed the line or committed a stupid, but legal act? Certainly. Might the target of your affection have a limited tolerance for your perceived wrongful behaviors? For sure. In fact, a few random coincidences of meeting and coming across another person may be perceived as criminal even if perception is not reality. As unlikely as this may sound, Saland Law represented a young man a trial and secured an acquittal for this type of allegation. Simply, whatever circumstance you find yourself in, know that you have rights and your hesitation to exercise them can and will be detrimental to your long term future.Related Offenses and Collateral Issues
It is worth noting that because these offenses also violate the Family Court Act, a Stalking victim can pursue an Order of Protection or Restraining Order in Family Court as opposed or in addition to seeking a remedy within the criminal justice system. Not mutually exclusive, both an accuser and accused can find themselves before a Family Court and Criminal Court should a complainant or petitioner decide that both forums can provide the remedy they seek. In these cases, it is possible to consolidate both matters into the Integrated Domestic Violence Court. This fact aside, common charges seen on a criminal court complaint or indictment include the Violent Crimes of Assault, Menacing, Aggravated Harassment, Unlawful Imprisonment, Kidnapping, Criminal Possession of a Weapon and others.
Irrespective of the particular offense you are arrested for, a plea or conviction is not only permanent but can have significant immigration consequences and grave ramifications to your career as a medical professional, financial sector professional, employee of New York City government and others.Your Case, Your Defense, Your Future
Don’t let any arrest derail your career, embarrass you or your family, or land you on the front page of the tabloids. Be smart. Protect yourself. Secure the right criminal defense counsel to put you in the best position to resolve the allegations in the most appropriate manner. If you are the victim of an actual or perceived stalker, don’t wait until your life is on the line or your loved ones are in danger. Whatever your case may be and irrespective of what side of the law you find yourself, take the steps to end the trauma and uncertainty that has overcome your life.
Call the Stalking lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at 212.312.7129 or ontact us online today.