New York Misdemeanor Crimes of Harassment and Fear
In New York, the misdemeanor crimes involving harassment and fear are all punishable by a sentence not to exceed one year in jail and have less serious consequences than their felony counterparts. Despite this similarity, the conduct these crimes encompass is quite diverse. Understanding the nature and elements of Aggravated Harassment, Menacing, Stalking and Harassment is an arduous task for those arrested and accused of these crimes and for non-criminal attorneys alike. If you are contacted by a detective with the New York City Police Department, or arrested without any warning, your lack of knowledge and guidance will put you at a tremendous and potentially devastating disadvantage. A disadvantage that can have grave and permanent implications.
Before reading any further, remember, prior to making any statement, turning yourself in or even apologizing for your conduct, protect yourself as best you can from the direct and collateral consequences of an arrest, Desk Appearance Ticket or conviction. Contact a New York criminal lawyer , such as the criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC, with real experience and practical knowledge of these crimes and New York criminal procedure. Not doing so could mean the difference between achieving an appropriate resolution to your case and being saddled with something that follows you throughout your life.
Many people envision the crime of Menacing as a man brandishing a knife or a gun and threatening the life of a helpless person. Similarly, many people may view Stalking as an act of an obsessed woman following a man through the streets of New York City. While all of this may be true and involve criminal conduct, the crimes of Stalking, Menacing and Aggravated Harassment each have unique criminal characteristic.
- Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree: New York Penal Law 240.30
- Menacing in the Second Degree: New York Penal Law 120.14
- Menacing in the Third Degree: New York Penal Law 120.15
- Stalking in the Third Degree: New York Penal Law 120.50
- Stalking in the Fourth Degree: New York Penal Law 120.45
- Harassment in the First Degree: New York Penal Law 240.25
- Harassment in the Second Degree: New York Penal Law 240.26
Regardless of how the crimes actually differ, there is common ground in the way these crimes are handled by the police, Assistant District Attorneys and the courts whether the arrest is in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, White Plains, Yonkers or anywhere outside New York City. That is, if you are accused of a misdemeanor Aggravated Harassment (NY PL 240.30), Menacing (NY PL 120.14 and NY PL 120.15), Stalking (NY PL 120.50 and NY PL 120.45) or Harassment (NY PL 240.25), you may be eligible for a Desk Appearance Ticket. If you are and you are given one of these appearance tickets or DATs, you will still be arrested, but not held for up to 24 hours in central booking or any jail waiting to see a judge.Mandatory Arrests & Domestic Violence
There is nothing worse than being accused of a crime you didn't commit or arrested for an offense that is being embellished by an accuser who has an agenda. Even if you are "guilty" (remember, prosecutors must ALWAYS prove their case against you beyond a reasonable doubt), there may be a reasonable explanation or mitigating factors that may be relevant to your conduct. Unfortunately for you, as an accused violator of the New York Penal Law, a Desk Appearance Ticket or DAT may not be in the cards. Not only will the police routinely err on the side of caution if the allegation involves violence, but in the event that you and the "victim" or "complainant" are former lovers, married, siblings or qualify as family, your arrest is mandatory. That is correct, domestic violence or DV arrests of Aggravated Harassment, Menacing and Stalking are all required by the police department. Sadly, it is an arrest first and ask questions later situation in the eyes of the NYPD.
When you are arrested for a crime of harassment and fear such as those listed here, when you see a judge an order of protection, or restraining order, will be issued against you and in favor of your accuser. Generally, these orders of protection prevent any contact with you and your accuser. Right or wrong, true or false, accurate or embellished, Assistant District Attorneys and judges will take these initial accusations as gospel until they have had sufficient time to investigate and your criminal lawyer begins his or her advocacy. What is of grave concern is that even where a complainant may not be cooperative with law enforcement because a misunderstanding snowballed into something much greater or for a variety of other reasons, the order of protection can even bar you from your own home.Other Factors to Consider
Regardless of whether you are charged with Menacing, Aggravated Harassment, Stalking, Assault, Petit Larceny, Criminal Mischief or any crime, you have certain rights. Do not be afraid to exercise them. You never need to speak to the police or any member of law enforcement before or after your arrest. Even your apology that you think will get you out of your predicament can and likely will be used against you. Do not be afraid to ask for a lawyer at the time you are picked up and brought to a precinct or after you receive the first phone call from a detective to come down for a meeting. If you fail to do so, not only may prosecutors take a video statement to use against you at a later date, but what you say may be the strongest piece of evidence law enforcement has. In other words, the case against you may otherwise be weak or be non existent, but your admission will give Assistant District Attorneys the evidence they need to convict you at trial.Additional Resources
- CrottySaland.Com Website
- CrottySaland.Com New York City Desk Appearance Ticket Information
- NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com (searchable by New York Penal Law statute code and title)
The New York crimes of harassment and fear are extremely serious offenses that span from misdemeanors that can destroy careers to crimes that can send you behind bars for up to one year. Protect yourself and your family both inside and outside the courthouse. There is no substitute for advocacy, experience and knowledge.