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Second Degree Aggravated Harassment

New York does not take a back seat to any other state in terms of investigation and prosecution of Domestic Violence crimes. In fact, New York was one of the first states to make arrests mandatory in domestic situations. Not content with stopping there, New York has a new crime on the books (December 2012) that will further challenge even the best Domestic Violence attorneys and New York criminal lawyers. That crime, Second Degree Aggravated Harassment, is not new in its entirety, but a new subsection has been amended into the offense (New York Penal Law 240.30(4)) while others have been renumbered.

Regardless of the subdivision of NY PL 240.30 you may face, every crime and arrest in New York for Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree requires that you have the intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person. Unlike an Assault in the Third Degree (NY PL 120.00) where you must have the intent to cause a physical injury to another person, Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree does not require that heightened level of intent (arguably, prosecutors now have a means to circumvent New York Assault law). Assuming you possess this intent, to be found guilty of NY PL 240.30(4) you must strike, shove, kick or subject another person to physical contact. In doing so, that contact must result in a physical injury. The statute also specifically establishes family or household members as persons who may be victims of this crime.

The dynamic that changes for prosecutors, criminal attorneys, judges and defendants alike is twofold. First is the fact that Second Degree Aggravated Harassment is often prosecuted in a domestic context. In these cases, the allegations usually involve some form of telephonic, texting or email communication. Now, an entirely new spectrum of crime is added to the statute.

Second, and most importantly, the statute certainly has a noble intent. Who would disagree that law enforcement should not have all the tools in its arsenal to stop or punish domestic violence and other violent offenders (keep in mind that an accused need not be a domestic relation, but often involves family members)? However, this “new” offense arguably gives prosecutors the ability to punish people who may never have had the intent to cause a physical injury to another person, but accidently did so. What if, hypothetically, you intended to only annoy another person and pushed him or her? What if that person fell or banged into something and had a big ugly, purple bruise on the arm? Despite this ultimate injury, you never had any intent to cause a physical injury? Now, prosecutors have the means to arrest or charge a person with an offense that is the same level as an Assault, but arguably not as significant in terms of intentional conduct. That’s right. You did not perpetrate a Third Degree Assault, but now New York prosecutors can charge you with an equal crime in the eyes of the law.

Will prosecutors pursue Aggravated Harassment judiciously or only where it is truly warranted? Alternatively, will they abuse their discretion to coerce a lesser plea? While each case is unique, criminal lawyers must not merely be prepared to defend their client’s from a criminal allegation, but they must also be ready to counsel clients about the devastation to their careers, livelihood and names that can result from even the slightest hint of wrongdoing.

To learn about the crimes, statutes, procedures and practical applications of New York Domestic Violence laws or any other subsection of Second Degree Harassment, follow the links above or review the Educate yourself on the law and don’t let a wrongful allegation define you as a person or destroy your future. Let the former Domestic Violence Unit prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office utilize their years of training and experience to identify and implement the best defense for you.

Call our New York criminal defense attorneys at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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