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Second Degree Stalking: NY Penal Law 120.55

Stalking in the Second Degree, Penal Law 120.55, is a class “E” felony offense. More dangerous than the two lesser misdemeanor degrees, but not as significant as the other felony version of this crime, any accusation or arrest is potentially crippling and devastating. In New York, a conviction not only carries the “regular” consequences of a permanent criminal record and being subject to an Order of Protection or Restraining Order, but a potential incarceratory sentence in prison. Stated simply, before leaving yourself exposed to life altering consequences, identify your best defense and secure the counsel from the right criminal attorney with knowledge of the law and experience in the courtroom. Whatever defensive tactic you pursue, whether your arrest is in New York City or one of the many counties in the Hudson Valley – Westchester, Putnam, Rockland or Dutchess – know the following: Should you proceed recklessly or in a cavalier manner when arrested for any one of New York’s Stalking crimes, you will find yourself saddled with the humiliation, shame and a non-expungable record along with a lifetime of regret.

Definitions and Elements

Penal Law 120.55 builds on the lesser degrees of this offense by requiring one or more additional aggravating factors. For a judge or jury to find you guilty, the District Attorney must prove one of the following:

  • You violated subsection three of Third Degree Stalking, Penal Law 120.50, and in the furtherance of that act or acts you displayed or possessed and threatened the use of a firearm, imitation pistol, dangerous instrument or dangerous weapon, dangerous knife or a litany of other types of objects.
  • You committed any subsection of the Third Degree offense, and you previously were convicted of certain specified crimes, such as Third Degree Assault, Penal Law 120.00, within the preceding five years, against the person you are currently accused of victimizing or their immediate family member; or you committed Fourth Degree Stalking, Penal Law 120.45, and you have previously been convicted of the Third Degree crime.
  • You repeatedly followed a person under the age of fourteen or engaged in a course of conduct towards them with the intent to cause them a reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death, and you are twenty-one years of age or older.
  • You committed Penal Law 120.50(3) against ten or more people in ten or more incidents.

As the above demonstrates, law enforcement – from the NYPD to the New York State Police – has a variety of means to pursue “justice.” Similarly, you and your lawyer may have your hands full and work cut out as you challenge and confront the different theories and other offenses.

Penalties and Punishment

The penalties for this charge can be quite severe even if they are the least of any felony. If convicted, your sentencing judge can punish you be sending you to prison for as long as four years even if your prior history is clean. Alternatively, even if you stay out of jail, a court can punish you by as long as five years of probation, mandate treatment or community service, issue a final Order of Protection, or shackle you with other sanctions.


While the language is fairly straight forward, a typical example of this offense is where the accused stalker, allegedly brandishes, waves, pulls out or somehow displays a weapon to the purported victim. Keep in mind, these events can occur in person or even over social media.

Related Offenses

While every case and circumstance is different, it is not atypical for allegations to also involve Menacing, Assault, Trespass, Burglary, Kidnapping, Aggravated Harassment and other misdemeanors and felonies.

Potential Defenses

Might there be a misunderstanding or a reasonable explanation as to your perceived or actual conduct? Could you have a defense based in either law or fact? If the evidence is strong or overwhelming, can you mitigate your conduct? The answer to each of these questions is dependent not solely on the criminal lawyer you retain, but when you do so, how you assist in your own defense and take the time to both identify and implement the strongest and most viable response. As strategic and diligent as your counsel can be, remember to be smart, be as proactive as you can, secure your evidence and witnesses as soon as possible and take each step with a reasoned and responsible approach.

Whether you find yourself accused of a Domestic Violence related crime, an offense involving a celebrity, or you are a victim of Stalking, the former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law will leverage their collective experience, advocacy and knowledge of the law to put you in the right place to preserve your life today and beyond. Don’t live with regret or make a grave mistake that can upend your life and future. Start your defense now and begin protecting your name, honor, family and liberty.

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

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