Stalking is a crime that comes with a lot of negative associations and perceptions. While it may not be as serious as other crimes, being accused of this crime is still a major deal because a conviction can cause severe damage to your reputation and can land you in jail, in addition to having to pay hefty fines. Read on to discover what is considered stalking in New York.
NY’s Stalking Laws
New York Penal Law has many laws that cover similar ground to what we think of as stalking, such as various degrees of the criminal offense of harassment. Additionally, stalking can also be related to domestic violence as well. However, the focus here is the four main general stalking-related criminal offenses. See the following:
- Stalking in the Fourth Degree: Occurs when the actor intentionally engages in conduct that they know or should know will cause fear of harm to the victim or to the victim’s immediate family or causes harm to mental/emotional health of victim or their immediate family or causes a reasonable fear that the victim’s employment or business is threatened.
- Stalking in the Third Degree: Identical to fourth, but here 3 or more victims are involved, or the victim is afraid of physical harm or serious bodily injury.
- Stalking in the Second Degree: Identical to third degree when a weapon is involved in the act, or it’s a second conviction within 5 years, or if the victim is 14 or under and the actor is 21 or older.
- Stalking in the First Degree: Occurs when the actor commits conduct that causes the victim to fear that the actor will physically harm, kidnap, commit a sex crime or sex offense. The actor displays a weapon or while stalking someone they also commit other offenses, such as sexual abuse in the second degree, rape in the third degree, criminal sexual act in the third degree, or other named offenses.
What Happens After a Stalking Conviction?
If you’re convicted of a stalking offense, your punishment will depend on the specific offense and your criminal history. For instance, stalking in the first degree and stalking in the second degree are felonies, which will yield much harsher penalties than convictions of third and fourth degree stalking which are misdemeanors. Depending on your situation, the complaining witness may obtain an order of protection against you, you could get slapped with fines, incarceration, probation, restitution, or any combination of these various punishments.
Defending Yourself Against NY Stalking Charges
New York’s stalking laws were intended to help keep people feel safe as they go about living their lives. However, there are complex scenarios where these same laws may seem unfair to those accused of breaking them. If you’re in this situation, you want to make sure that your side is being represented fairly. The risk of a possible wrongful conviction is overwhelming, so you should be sure to obtain counsel who can be on your side and fight to protect your future. Contact us to speak to a qualified MOWK Law lawyer immediately to get started.