NYC Stalking Attorney Cody Warner Explains Stalking Charges in New York
Stalking is a serious allegation that is often aggressively prosecuted. If you have been charged with stalking, NYC stalking attorney Cody Warner can assess your case to determine the best path forward.
How Is Stalking Defined Under New York Law?
Stalking statutes in New York prohibit people from engaging in certain courses of conduct towards another person, such as:
- Following someone on foot or by car;
- Tracking them without permission by use of a GPS device;
- Routinely being present in places when the victim is present;
- Repeatedly calling the victim and hanging up or refusing to speak; and
- Repeatedly emailing, texting, or messaging them for no valid purpose.
Such behavior, alone, is not enough for someone to be convicted of stalking. The course of conduct must be directed at a specific person with knowledge that the conduct would likely result in the following:
- Reasonable fear of material harm to the other person’s physical health, safety, or property or family or friends;
- Material harm to their mental or emotional health; or
- Reasonable fear that their employment, career, or business is threatened.
New York law does not specify how many times a person must call or how long they must follow a person; it is up to the prosecutor to decide whether they should pursue stalking charges. Unfortunately for defendants, this means you can be accused of stalking even if your conduct was not intended as stalking.
Stalking charges often involve situations where the alleged victim ends a relationship with the defendant. Since the defendant is upset from losing a partner, the defendant makes repeated attempts to convince the alleged victim to give their relationship another try. Although the defendant may be coming from an innocent and vulnerable place, if the alleged victim calls the police due to the unwanted calls or visits, the defendant could very easily be arrested and charged with stalking. Although arrests do happen in these sorts of situations, the prosecution often has difficulty proving that the defendant reasonably should have known that the conduct was likely to cause a reasonable fear of harm.
If you have been charged with stalking, an NYC stalking attorney can develop a strategic defense so that you can get the best possible outcome.
Stalking Charges in New York
New York law has four degrees of stalking charges. If you have been charged with a stalking charge, an NYC stalking attorney can develop the best defense strategy for your case.
Stalking In The Fourth Degree
Stalking in the Fourth degree P.L. 120.45 is a class B misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail. Stalking in the Fourth Degree occurs when a person intentionally engages in a course of conduct with no valid purpose that the person knows or should reasonably know would have the following effect:
- Cause the victim to reasonably fear material harm or harm to their physical health, safety, or to their property or family or friends;
- Cause material harm to the victim’s mental or emotional health by communicating with the victim or their friends or family members after being told to stop; or
- Cause the victim to reasonably fear that their employment, career, or business is threatened by communicating with them at work after being told to stop.
An experienced NYC stalking attorney can analyze your case to determine whether defenses exist that could result in a dismissal or reduced charges.
Stalking In The Third Degree
Stalking in the Third Degree P.L 120.50 is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail. You can be charged with Stalking in the Third Degree in the following scenarios:
- You are accused of stalking three or more persons on three or more occasions;
- You were convicted of various crimes within the last ten years, such as rape, sexual abuse, or incest, and the stalking victim is the victim of that crime or a member of the victim’s family;
- You engaged in the course of conduct with the intent to annoy, harass, or alarm, and that would likely place the victim in fear of harm, kidnapping, or sexual assault; or
- You have been convicted of Stalking in the Fourth Degree within the last ten years.
The third scenario is potentially the most problematic for defendants; aggressive prosecutors can charge people with Stalking in the Third Degree when Stalking in the Fourth Degree may be more appropriate. If you have been charged with Stalking in the Third Degree, an NYC stalking attorney can determine the best strategy for your case.
Stalking In The Second Degree
Stalking the Second Degree P.L. 120.55 is a class E felony. If convicted, you face up to 4 years in prison or more if you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years. Stalking in the Second Degree is charged in several situations, including when a person commits Stalking in the Third Degree, and:
- displays a weapon;
- has been convicted of a qualifying sexual offense within the last five years; or
- stalked at least ten different people on ten or more separate occasions.
Stalking in the Second Degree is a serious crime and is prosecuted aggressively. An NYC stalking attorney can protect your rights and develop the best strategy for your case.
Stalking In The First Degree
Stalking in the First Degree is the most serious stalking charge you can face. It is a class D felony under P.L. 120.60 and considered a violent felony. If convicted, you face a possible maximum prison sentence of 7 years or more if you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years.
Stalking in the First Degree is charged when you intentionally or recklessly cause harm to the victim or commit a sex crime while stalking them.
Contact NYC Stalking Attorney Cody Warner for Help if You Are Facing Stalking Charges
A conviction for stalking comes with serious consequences. In addition to jail time, probation, or fines, a conviction can harm your reputation. Cody understands how overwhelmed you can feel when you face stalking charges, and he is ready to explain your situation to you and develop a strategic, tailored defense for your case. To learn more about how he can help, contact Cody to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.