Harassment in the Second Degree: New York Penal Law 240.26

Not that anyone would ever want to pick a particular arrest charge that they must face in New York criminal court, but Harassment in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law 240.26, is certainly the least serious offense of the crimes associated with and related to Assault in the Third Degree. Unlike New York Penal Law 120.00, NY PL 240.26 is not actually a crime. In fact, it is a violation. Being accused or convicted of a violation, however, does not clear you in terms of potential jail, community service or, even worse, long term collateral consequences. Unlike other violations, Harassment in the Second Degree does not merely “drop off” your record and seal.

Defining Second Degree Harassment

You can commit Second Degree Harassment in ways that you would think were far from criminal or illegal. According to NY PL 240.26, you are guilty this offense if you have the intent to harass, annoy or alarm some person and you:

  1. Strike them in some manner or make physical contact with them (or attempt to do so); or
  2. Follow a person around in public areas; or
  3. Engage in a course of conduct (repeated actions) of annoyance or alarm to that person without any legitimate reason to do so.

From the very general and vague definition above, you can easily see how this offense can be thrown at you where your conduct was reasonable or otherwise legitimate. For better or worse, clearly guilty or clearly innocent, many of these types of offenses, especially those involving domestic violence, result in immediate arrests where questions are only asked after the fact.

If you are arrested or given a Desk Appearance Ticket in New York City or a suburban county, remember that you are not required to speak to any member of law enforcement. Doing so could not just strengthen their case against you, but give them the ammunition they need to prosecute the case in its entirety. Don’t let a misinterpretation stigmatize you forever or embarrass your family. Protect not just your name, but your rights as well.

Call the former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys and New York Harassment lawyers at 212.312.7129 or contact us online to speak with us about your Harassment arrest and D.A.T. today.