Stalking cases are often wrought with emotion. As the accused, you likely feel like you did nothing wrong. Perhaps your actions were taken out of context or misunderstood. You probably don’t understand how the alleged victim could claim to be frightened of you. But whether or not you intended to scare the victim, you are now accused of stalking, a serious criminal offense under New York law.
Even the least serious of stalking charges—fourth degree, which is a misdemeanor—can have a lasting impact on your life. Carrying around a criminal conviction, especially one with a stigma like stalking, can make it difficult to find work and in this information age we are living in, can impact future personal relationships as well. Working with an experienced and aggressive defense lawyer can help you mitigate these potential consequences and potentially resolve the case with the least possible impact on your life.Charged with a crime in New York? Please call (888) 435-4744.
There are four different classifications of stalking under New York criminal law.
New York Stalking Laws
Fourth Degree Stalking
Stalking in the 4th degree is defined as intentionally engaging in a course of conduct (this refers to something done again and again) directed at a specific person, and having knowledge (or should have reasonable knowledge) that such conduct:
- Is likely to cause fear of physical harm or fear of harm to the property of that person, a member of their family, or a third person with which they are acquainted, or
- Causes harm to the mental or emotional health of the alleged victim where the conduct consists of following, repeatedly phoning, or initiating communication with that person, their family, or a third person with which they are acquainted, when you were previously asked to stop, or
- Is likely to cause a person to reasonably fear that their employment or career is threatened by the conduct and you were previously asked to stop.
Stalking in the fourth degree is classified as a B Misdemeanor charge which carries up to 90 days in jail.
Ref: NY State Law §120.45
Third Degree Stalking
Stalking in the third degree is slightly different than the 4th degree and also considered a more serious criminal offense. You could face this charge if the prosecution can prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that you:
- Committed 4th degree stalking as defined above and committed against three or more people in three or more situations for which you have not yet been charged,
- Committed 4th degree stalking as defined above and you have previously been convicted of another criminal offense (assault, harassment, kidnapping, etc.) against the same alleged victim, a member of their family, or someone they know,
- Committed 4th degree stalking (as defined above) and have a previous conviction for 4th degree stalking within the past 10 years, or
- Acted with intent to harass, annoy or alarm by engaging in a course of conduct (repeated behavior) that was likely to cause fear in that person.
This is considered an A Misdemeanor charge and carries up to a year in jail.
Ref: NY State Law §120.50
Second Degree Stalking
You could be facing charges of stalking in the second degree if the prosecution has probable cause that you:
- Committed 3rd degree stalking (as defined above) and displayed, possessed, or threatened to use any weapon in the commission of the stalking,
- Committed 3rd degree stalking (as defined above) and had previously been convicted of another offense (assault, harassment, menacing, etc.) against the same victim, someone in their family, or someone they know within the last five years,
- Committed 4th degree stalking (as defined above) and you have a prior conviction for 3rd degree stalking,
- Committed 3rd degree stalking (as defined above) against 10 or more people in 10 or more different situations for which you have not previously been convicted, or
- Are over the age of 21 and you repeatedly follow someone under the age of 14 or engage in a course of conduct to intentionally place someone under 14 in fear of injury or death.
This is considered an E Felony under New York law and carries up to 4 years in prison.
Ref: NY State Law §120.55
First Degree Stalking
Stalking in the first degree is considered the most serious of all stalking offenses. This could be the applicable charge if the prosecution has probable cause to believe:
- You committed the offense of 3rd or 2nd degree stalking (as defined above) and in the commission of the act you:
a. Intentionally or recklessly cause physical injury to the alleged victim, or
b. committed another criminal offense as defined by New York statutes.
This offense is considered a D felony and carries up to 7 years in prison.
Ref: NY State Law §120.60
Get Help With a New York Stalking Charge
Stalking is a serious offense, with serious repercussions. In addition to possible jail time, you face potentially irreparable damage to your reputation and even your career. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.