Strangulation in the Second Degree: NY Penal Law 121.12

It may be a lesson that you learned from your parents or teachers in school, but never put your hands on another person’s neck or intentionally choke someone regardless of your anger, frustration or rage. Simply, in New York State, strangling another person is criminal. Although you need not be a family member or intimate partner to find yourself arrested for Second Degree Strangulation, New York Penal Law 121.12, this crime is a felony often routinely associated with Domestic Violence arrests in New York. Irrespective of the party’s relationships, the crime of Strangulation in the Second Degree is a fairly straightforward. What is also quite obvious, upon conviction, the criminal code allows for penalties that can devastate and cripple families, careers and relationships.

Outside of the likelihood that a judge in any jurisdiction – from Brooklyn and Queens to Dutchess County and Westchester County – will issue a restraining order on behalf of the alleged complainant should you know him or her, the prospect of incarceration is a greater concern. From setting bail to a post-conviction sentence, even without any criminal history a Supreme or County Court Judge has the discretion to send you to prison for as long as seven years. Equally concerning, as a statutorily recognized “violent offense” in New York Penal Law 70.02, the minimum sentence is a presumptive two years imprisonment.

Second Degree Strangulation: Elements of NY Penal Law 121.12

Whether your counsel is an experienced New York Domestic Violence lawyer or criminal defense attorney, he or she may describe NY PL 121.12 as a similar, but much more serious crime, than Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation. Incorporating this lesser offense into Second Degree Strangulation, the New York Criminal Code defines NY Penal Law 121.12 as an offense where you commit Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation along with other factors of which only one need occur. If the person whom you intentionally strangle also loses consciousness, no matter for how long or brief, the complaint falls into a stupor as a result of your actions or the alleged victim suffers a legally defined “physical injury” involving substantial pain or any level of impairment, then you have violated the law of Strangulation in the Second Degree.

Second Degree Strangulation: Practical Application of NY Penal Law 121.12

It may seem to the untrained eye and non-criminal lawyer that felony Second Degree Strangulation would mandate a crushing blow to the neck, throat, mouth or nasal passage of a victim, but by no means is that required to either establish probable cause or proof beyond a reasonable doubt. As noted, “physical injury” is defined in the New York Penal Law as substantial pain. Would a deep bruise on the complainant’s neck constitute a physical injury? It is certainly possible, but while case law explains when an injury rises to this level, do not forget that impairment may be an issue even if there are no visible injuries supporting the physical injury element of PL 121.12. Whatever the alleged physical injury or impairment, it is essential to ascertain whether prosecutors have reached the legal requirement and burden. The success of your defense and the advocacy of your criminal lawyer may mean the difference between exoneration or a reduction of the crime to a misdemeanor and a top count conviction leaving you incarcerated for a presumptive minimum of two and a maximum of seven years.

Never forget that no matter the nature of an investigation, arrest or indictment, you have failing to protect yourself is not an option. When so much is at stake and the potential for a life altering felony looms, you can count on the experience, knowledge and advocacy of the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC.

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

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