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Second Degree Harassment: NY Penal Law 240.26

Second Degree Harassment: NY Penal Law 240.26

Although a violation and not a crime, Second Degree Harassment, New York Penal Law 240.26 is often associated with a pink summons returnable to 1 Centre Street in Manhattan or with a Family Offense petition where a party seeks a Family Court Order of Protection in the context of a domestic or intimate relationship. Even though a conviction would not be deemed criminal, retaining the right criminal defense lawyer or Family Court attorney is critical. Not only can an adverse finding potentially stain your record permanently, a judge can hang his or her proverbial hat on this offense when issuing a Restraining Order.

The Elements

Sometimes viewed as a “younger sibling” of Assault in the Third Degree or either Stalking in the Fourth or Third Degree, Harassment has distinct legal requirements broken out into three subsections. In substance, you are guilty of NY PL 240.26, no matter the section, when you have the requisite intent to alarm, harass or annoy a person. To violate subsection one (1) you must do so or threaten to do so by kicking, striking, hitting or touching that person. Although less common, you are also guilty of subsection two (2) if you follow a person in a public place with this same intent to alarm, harass or annoy them. Lastly, you will violate subsection three (3) if you engage in a course of conduct without a legitimate purpose that alarms or seriously annoys your target.

Penalties and Punishment

Whether convicted in a NYC criminal court as a result of finding of guilt after trial or a lesser plea, or a Town or Justice Court in a suburban county such as Westchester or Rockland, a presiding judge can sentence you to as long as fifteen (15) days in jail – fifteen days of which each and every one is one day too long. Even if not incarcerated, a judge can assign other conditions such as community service. In the event there is a fact-finding hearing pursuant to an Article 8 proceeding in Family Court, while you won’t find yourself jailed, a judge can issue a Stay Away Order. Such an order is available in the criminal context as well and will certainly be issued if your case stems from a Domestic Violence arrest.

Example and Hypothetical

Striking someone in the chest without causing injury nor having the intent to do so would violate this statute. Another way you could run afoul would be to follow someone to work, then their home and on the subway. Again, depending on how far you take it, your subjective intent and even if you were advised to cease, the law might allow a more serious charge.

Your Case, Your Defense, Your Future

As briefly noted above, NY PL 240.26 may not be as serious as the crime of Third Degree Assault, but it is a violation that can cause significant collateral consequences. If you are convicted of this offense, will it show up on a background check? How will it impact professional licenses or certifications? What ramifications will it have to your immigration status? If an offense constituting the basis of an Article 8 petition, can Second Degree Harassment alone be enough for a judge to issue a two or five year Order of Protection in Family Court? The reality is that there are many questions that you must both know to ask and have answered no matter where in the process you find yourself.

There is no substitute for a well-orchestrated and powerful defense whatever the charge may be. Whether the product of an Appearance Ticket or summons, Second Degree Harassment should not compromise your future. Put yourself in the best position to protect yourself. Contact one of the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law.

Call the former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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