Second Degree Criminal Interference with Health Care Services or Religious Worship: NY Penal Law 240.70

New York City and the rest of New York State is not immune from the tumultuous political fissures that have erupted all over the United States. Whether due to anger or ignorance, there are times when people can behave with intolerance. At the same time, merely because your view is unpopular or you passionately disagree does not mean your protests are illegal. Instead, the misunderstanding may not be yours as an arrestee or the accused, but the police who arrested and the District Attorney who is prosecuting you. Such a scenario may not be atypical when the crime you are accused of violating is Second Degree Criminal Interference with Health Care Services or Religious Worship, New York Penal Law 240.70.

Whether you were issued a Desk Appearance for a PL 240.70 arrest or you the police led you and others away to Central Booking where you waited to see a New York Criminal Court Judge, know that you have the same presumption of innocence as anyone charged with any other crime.

Second Degree Criminal Interference: Understanding New York Penal Law 240.70

Second Degree Criminal Interference with Health Care Services or Religious Worship is broken down into multiple sections that address not merely the crime, but definitions and even a statutory defense. Although more information is available on Crotty Saland PC’s Criminal Interference Information Page, you are guilty of violating PL 240.70, Criminal Interference with Health Services or Religious Worship in the Second Degree, when you use force or threaten the same and intentionally intimidate or interfere with, injure, or intimidate another person because that person was or is obtaining or providing reproductive health services. Know that the criminal law makes no distinction between attempt and success. In other words, the courts would treat you the same whether you attempted to intimidate and obstruct or actually succeeded. A conviction for PL 240.70(1)(a), like all other sections of this crime, is punishable by one year in jail.

Somewhat different, the District Attorney would charge you with violating PL 240.70(1)(b) if instead of targeting the provider or patient who actually is giving or receiving reproductive health services you discourage that person or any other person or persons from obtaining or providing reproductive health services.

Moving away from reproductive health services, PL 240.70(1)(c) criminalizes conduct where you use force, the threat of force or physical obstruction and intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere with, or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with, another person because he or she was or is seeking to exercise the right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship.

The last Criminal Interference Crime, PL 240.70(1)(d) covers both institutions and structures dedicated to religion and reproductive health services. If you intentionally damage the property of a health care facility, or attempt to do so, because such facility provides reproductive health services, or intentionally damage the property of a place of religious worship, expect the full force of the criminal justice system to come down swift and hard.

Second Degree Criminal Interference: Defenses to New York Penal Law 240.70

Drafted into the Second Degree Criminal Interference statute, PL 240.70(2) specifically states that a parent or legal guardian of a minor is not subject to prosecution for violating PL 240.70(1)(a) or PL 240.70(1)(b) where the crime and conduct is directed exclusively at the minor child. Because this defense is likely limited to unique circumstances, exploring defenses with your criminal defense attorney will require a much deeper “look” into the facts, evidence and law of your particular arrest and case.

By no means an all-inclusive list of potential routes to challenge your arrest, how is that the police and District Attorney can establish your intent to obstruct, injure a person or damage property? Were there many protestors? Were you merely peacefully standing up for your beliefs? Is it possible the police confused your behavior with the actions of another person in what became a “mob” scene? For that matter, were you merely a bystander? If you were questioned or made an admission, did the NYPD’s or other police department’s officer or detective read you your Miranda rights? Is there a video of the alleged occurrence that corroborates your alleged “violent” or intrusive acts?

Have no misgivings. You should expect that an accusation of aggression, violence, disruption and attack upon a place of worship, a hospital, or other facility where services for reproductive health care is practiced is taken quite seriously in New York. Whether you are Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or practice any other religion, prosecutors and judges will protect the rights of peaceful congregants doing so in their respective or other house of worship. As ugly and embarrassing as an arrest for Second Degree Criminal Interference with Health Care Services or Religious Worship may be, you need not take such an accusation sitting down and let law enforcement trample your rights.

Be smart, not flippant nor cavalier, about confronting your criminal accusations. There is a potential way out. Advocacy, experience and knowledge can create and fortify your best defense. The New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys at Crotty Saland PC stand ready in your time of need.

Call us at 212.312.7129 or contact us online today to speak with our New York attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors.

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