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Strangulation in the First Degree: NY Penal Law 121.13

The most serious and potentially devastating of all New York Strangulation crimes is found in Article 121 of the Penal Law. A class “C” violent felony that will expose you to a mandatory term of incarceration, First Degree Strangulation, Penal Law 121.13, both requires and demands the advocacy of a criminal defense attorney capable of exploring all your legal remedies, conducting a thorough investigation, standing up to the arrest allegations and, where necessary, mitigating your conduct.

Definition and Elements

Somewhat similar to the lesser class “D” felony, NY PL 121.13, First Degree Strangulation, dictates that if you perpetrate the crime of Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation by, for example, applying pressure to a person’s throat or neck or by obstructing that person’s nose or mouth with the objective or goal to inhibit their normal breathing or blood flow, then you are close to committing this offense. The additional element that the District Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that due to your actions the complainant suffered a “serious physical injury” as defined in the Penal Law even if it was not your intent to cause such an injury.

One of the major differences between the First Degree and the lesser Second Degree crime, and one your counsel should address in greater depth, is that the injury sustained by the complainant needs to go beyond physical injury and reach the “serious physical injury” threshold. In this situation, where broken blood vessels, a swollen jaw and a deep “angry” bruise would likely satisfy the lesser felony of Penal Law 121.12, it would not be enough for a violation of Penal Law 121.13. Instead, the injury must be of the type that causes impairment to the complainant’s health, disfigurement or similar trauma.

Penalties and Punishment

As a class “C” violent felony, this offense is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. At least 3.5 years of state prison is required, and probation or other non-incarceratory sentences are not available without negotiation and reduction of the charges. That is correct. Should you plead guilty or if you are convicted after trial, imprisonment is required by statute.

Example and Hypothetical Scenario

The First Degree offense, like the lesser felony of the Second Degree, essentially covers situations where one person chokes another and causes an injury in the course of doing so. However, this injury must rise to the level of a “serious physical injury.” The easiest way to visualize this is to imagine where the choking is so forceful that it results in a permanent or semi-permanent damage to the victim's throat and/or windpipe such as a crushing injury that requires surgical intervention.

Related Offenses and Collateral Issues

Often associated with Domestic Violence arrests between former and current lovers, spouses or other family members, this crime may be charged on a felony complaint or in an indictment with varying degrees of Assault, Stalking, Menacing and even Criminal Possession of a Weapon. Your Case, Your Defense, Your Future

Just as with the other related offenses, it is imperative to vet the facts, evidence and nature of the alleged injury to determine whether the prosecution can establish all of the elements of First Degree Strangulation beyond a reasonable doubt and what defense you should consider implementing. Remember, identifying the right strategy and the best criminal lawyers to successfully confront the evidence will make the difference not only between incarceration and limited or no imprisonment, but the potential decimation of your career, professional licenses, family, and immigration status.

Whether the crime you face is a class “C” violent felony offense, a lesser felony or a misdemeanor, do not recklessly push forward without knowing how you will best achieve the optimal resolution. When there is no substitute for knowledge, experience and advocacy, know that the criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys at Saland Law are prepared and ready to represent you in your time of great need.

Call the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312–7129 or contact us online today.

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