New York Stalking Laws – All You Need To Know

by ECL Writer
Stalking In The Third Degree

Stalking is a serious crime that affects thousands of people each year in the United States. In New York, stalking is taken just as seriously as in any other state. The New York stalking laws are designed to protect individuals from unwanted and potentially dangerous attention from another person. These laws outline what constitutes stalking, the punishments for engaging in such behavior, and the legal options available to victims of stalking. Understanding these laws is essential for anyone living in or visiting New York, as it can help protect them from becoming a victim or assist them in seeking justice if they are stalked. In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will explore the New York stalking laws, their purpose, and the legal consequences of violating them. We will also provide information on how to seek help if you are being stalked or if you know someone who is a victim of stalking.

What Is Stalking

Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention or behavior that causes fear, distress, or harassment in another person. It can take many different forms, including following someone, making unwanted phone calls or sending unwanted messages or gifts, monitoring someone’s online activity, or showing up uninvited to someone’s home or workplace.

Stalking behaviors can be motivated by various factors, such as a desire for control, obsession, jealousy, or revenge. It is a serious crime and can have long-lasting emotional, psychological, and physical effects on the victim. If you believe you are being stalked, it’s important to seek help from law enforcement or other appropriate resources as soon as possible.

New York Stalking Laws

New York Stalking Laws (N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 120.45) are designed to protect individuals from unwanted and threatening behavior and provide legal recourse for victims of stalking. The laws define stalking as a pattern of conduct that intentionally and repeatedly harasses or follows another person, causing that person to feel fear or intimidation.

Under New York laws, stalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the offense. A first-time offender may be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to one year in jail, while repeat offenders may face felony charges and a longer prison sentence.

In addition to criminal penalties, New York stalking laws also provide civil remedies for victims of stalking. A victim can seek a restraining order, which prohibits the stalker from contacting or approaching the victim. A victim can also sue the stalker for damages, including emotional distress and lost wages.

New York Stalking Laws also prohibit cyberstalking, which involves using electronic communications to harass or intimidate another person. This can include sending threatening messages or posting defamatory content online. Cyberstalking is treated the same as traditional stalking under New York laws and can result in both criminal and civil penalties.

The state of New York takes stalking very seriously, and law enforcement agencies have taken steps to increase awareness and education around the issue. In 2013, the state passed the Stalker Database Bill, which requires convicted stalkers to register with the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services. The database is maintained by law enforcement agencies and can be used to track repeat offenders and prevent further stalking incidents.

If you are a victim of stalking, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. You can contact your local law enforcement agency, or seek assistance from a victim services organization. An experienced attorney can also help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.

New York Stalking Laws are an important tool for protecting individuals from harassment and intimidation. The laws provide criminal and civil penalties for stalking and offer victims a range of legal remedies to help them feel safe and secure. If you are a victim of stalking, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

What Is Considered Stalking In New York State?

Stalking in New York State is defined as a pattern of conduct that intentionally and repeatedly follows, harasses, or threatens another person, causing them to feel fear, alarm, or annoyance. The behavior must be repeated over a period of time, or be severe enough to cause the victim to feel threatened or intimidated.

Some examples of stalking behaviors in New York State include following a person, repeatedly appearing at their home or workplace uninvited, making unwanted phone calls or sending unwanted messages or gifts, monitoring a person’s online activity, and threatening the victim or their family.

New York State law also recognizes cyberstalking, which involves using electronic communications to harass or intimidate another person. This can include sending threatening messages or posting defamatory content online. Cyberstalking is treated the same as traditional stalking under New York law and carries the same criminal penalties.

To be considered stalking in New York State, the behavior must be intentional and have no legitimate purpose. It’s important to note that stalking is not the same as normal interactions or friendly behavior and that it must be repetitive or severe enough to cause the victim to feel threatened or intimidated.

Under New York State law, stalking is a serious offense that can result in criminal charges and penalties. A first-time offender may be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to one year in jail, while repeat offenders may face felony charges and a longer prison sentence.

Victims of stalking in New York State can also seek civil remedies, including a restraining order or a lawsuit for damages. A restraining order prohibits the stalker from contacting or approaching the victim, while a lawsuit can result in damages for emotional distress and lost wages.

Types Of Stalking Offenses In New York

Stalking in the fourth degree, stalking in the third degree, stalking in the second degree, and stalking in the first degree are all considered criminal offenses under New York Penal Law ( N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 120.45, 120.50, 120.55 & 120.60). Whereas stalking in the second and first degrees is a felony, stalking in the fourth and third degrees is a misdemeanor.

Stalking in the Fourth Degree

If you knowingly follow a course of behavior that is intended to be offensive to a particular individual and that:

  • is likely to give rise to a justifiable fear of physical danger to the individual, their family, or their property.
  • causes injury to that person’s mental or emotional well-being when you follow, call or make contact with them after they’ve asked you to stop after they’ve instructed you to stop. Next is the GPS tracking of another person.
  • is likely to make the target feel as though their job, business, or career is in jeopardy because part of your stalker behavior entails visiting the target at work, calling, or contacting the target in some other way.

Stalking in the fourth degree is a Class B misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 120.45-120.60

Stalking in the Third Degree

Stalking in the third degree is equivalent to stalking in the fourth degree, with the following exceptions:

  • You’ve stalked three or more individuals on at least three separate occasions; or
  • You were convicted of one of the following predicate crimes within the previous ten years: sexual misconduct, third-degree rape, second-degree rape, criminal sexual act, third-degree sexual abuse, second-degree sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree, incest in the third degree, incest in the second degree, or incest in the first degree. The predicate crime victim must be a relative of the stalking victim or the stalking victim must be the same victim as the predicate crime.
  • You act in a way that is likely to make the victim think that you would physically injure, kidnap, violate their sexuality, or imprison them illegally against them or a member of their close family in an effort to annoy, harass, or alarm them.
  • You were found guilty of fourth-degree stalking within the past ten years.

Stalking in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.50

Stalking in the Second Degree

Stalking in the second degree is very similar to stalking in the third degree in that both involve actions that give the victim reason to believe that you will harm them physically, kidnap them, or commit a sex crime or offense. The difference is that stalking in the second degree also involves the display of a weapon. Or you do it after being found guilty of a predicate sex crime during the previous five years. Maybe you do it at least ten times against ten different people.

Stalking in the second degree is a Class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.55

Stalking in the First Degree

If you stalk someone and also harm them physically, you’ll be charged with stalking in the first degree. Forcible touching, sexual abuse in the second degree, rape in the third degree, criminal sexual acts in the third degree, female genital mutilation, rape in the second degree, or criminal sexual act in the second degree are all crimes that can be committed while stalking someone.

What Is The Charge For Stalking In New York?

One of several crimes in New York where a repeat offender will receive harsher punishment is stalking. The penalty you receive if you are found guilty of stalking will depend on the specific stalking violation for which you were found guilty. Prison, probation, a fine, restitution, probation, or any combination of these penalties could be part of your sentence.

Stalking in the fourth degree

As a Class B misdemeanor, the maximum sentence is 3 months in the county jail and a fine of up to $500.

Stalking in the third degree

As a Class A misdemeanor the maximum sentence is 1 year in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Stalking in the second degree

The maximum punishment for a Class E felony is 4 years in state prison and a $5,000 fine. The judge may choose to sentence you to probation only if you haven’t had any past felonies within the last ten years, rather than prison. The minimum prison term you will serve is 1.5 years if you had already been convicted of a felony within the last 10 years. You will be labeled a persistent felony offender and subject to a minimum sentence of 12–25 years and a maximum term of life in prison if you have two prior felony convictions within the previous ten years.

Stalking in the first degree

The maximum punishment for a Class D felony is 7 years in state prison and a $5,000 fine. Even if you haven’t had any prior felony convictions within the previous 10 years, the judge must sentence you to at least 2 years in jail since stalking in the first degree is a serious felony violation. If you have previously been convicted of a non-violent felony, the minimum prison term you will serve is three years; however, if you have previously been convicted of a violent felony, the minimum prison term you will serve is five years. You will be labeled a persistent felony offender and subject to a minimum sentence of 12–25 years and a maximum term of life in prison if you have two prior felony convictions within the previous ten years.

Restitution

The judge may include ordering you to pay restitution in your punishment. To compensate the victim for out-of-pocket costs brought on by your offense, restitution is provided. For instance, if you hurt a person, the court can mandate that you cover their medical costs. The cost of repairing or replacing the victim’s property may be ordered by the court if you cause damage to it. The highest amount of restitution is typical $10,000 for misdemeanors and $15,000 for felonies. Nonetheless, the legislation permits a judge to impose a higher level of restitution if, for instance, the victim’s medical costs are more than the general statutory cap.

Fees

In New York if you are convicted of a criminal offense you will be required to pay certain statutory fees. One fee is a “mandatory surcharge.” It is $300 for a felony and $175 for a misdemeanor. You may also be required to pay a victim assistance fee of $25. N.Y. Pen. Law § 60.35. If you are placed on probation, you will have to pay probation supervision fees of $30 per month.

Probation

Probation may make up all or part of your sentence if you are found guilty of stalking. In fact, there is a potential that if you are found guilty of misdemeanor stalking, your entire sentence will be probation rather than a jail sentence. The length of probation would be one year for a Class B misdemeanor, three years for a Class B misdemeanor, and five years for a crime. Although being on probation is better than being incarcerated, you should be aware that it is not without difficulties.

You will be subject to stringent conditions that must be followed the entire time you are on probation in order to keep you from committing any other crimes. There will be serious repercussions if you violate any of these guidelines. A set of guidelines will be created by the court just for you. Common laws include:

  • You must not commit a crime. If you commit even a “minor” infraction including a misdemeanor, you could be in violation of the terms of your probation.
  • You must not associate with other people who you know have criminal records
  • You must not patronize unlawful or disreputable places. This means that you are not permitted to go to places known for illegal activity.
  • You must not possess controlled substances or drug paraphernalia
  • You must consent to warrantless searches without probable cause
  • You must submit to home visits by your Probation Officer
  • You must regularly report to your Probation Officer
  • You cannot leave the State of New York without permission.
  • You must let your Probation Office know if you move. You cannot move out of state without permission. Your Probation Officer will have to approve such a move and will have to make arrangements with your new jurisdiction to take over your probation supervision.
  • You must not own, possess or purchase a gun
  • You must refrain from drinking alcohol
  • You must complete any ordered substance abuse treatment or medical treatment
  • You must stick to a curfew
  • You must have job or be enrolled in school. If you change jobs or schools, you must let your Probation Officer know.

Community Service

Your sentence may also include a requirement that you complete community service. Depending on the offense, you may have to work a certain amount of hours. For instance, the maximum number of hours of community service you could be forced to compete for a Class A misdemeanor is 200, while the maximum for a Class D felony is 500.

Long-Term Consequences Of Stalking In New York

If you are found guilty of stalking, you could be sentenced to anywhere between 0 and 7 years in prison, unless you are a persistent felon. The repercussions of being found guilty of stalking, however, reach well beyond your prison sentence, your probation sentence, or whatever monetary payment you are required to make, whether the length of imprisonment or prison time is a few days, a few months, or a few years. Your criminal history will have an effect on the rest of your life. For instance, a prospective employer or a college admissions officer will learn right away from a background check that you were found guilty of reckless endangerment. You can miss a lot of opportunities as a result.

The penalties for a conviction are severe even though stalking is not one of the more serious felonies listed in the New York Penal Code. There is a potential that you will go to prison if you are found guilty. You can be required to make large reparation payments and fines. You’ll have a criminal record, which can prevent you from pursuing certain jobs. It’s crucial to have knowledgeable counsel because being found guilty of a stalking violation carries serious repercussions.

Statute Of Limitations For Stalking New York

The statute of limitations for stalking in New York State depends on the severity of the offense and the level of charges that are being filed.

For misdemeanor stalking charges, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of the last offense. This means that prosecutors have two years from the date of the last stalking behavior to file criminal charges against the offender.

For felony stalking charges, the statute of limitations is generally five years from the date of the last offense. This means that prosecutors have five years from the date of the last stalking behavior to file criminal charges against the offender.

It’s important to note that the statute of limitations can be extended in certain circumstances, such as if the victim was under 18 years old at the time of the offense or if the victim was physically or mentally incapacitated.

In addition, New York State law also provides for civil remedies for stalking victims, such as obtaining a restraining order or filing a lawsuit for damages. The statute of limitations for civil remedies may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

If you believe you are a victim of stalking, it’s important to seek help from law enforcement or other appropriate resources as soon as possible, regardless of the statute of limitations. It’s also important to keep a record of all stalking behaviors, including dates, times, and details, as this information can be used in criminal or civil proceedings.

Protection Orders For Stalking In New York

In New York, a victim of stalking can obtain a protection order from the court to prevent the stalker from contacting or harassing them. The protection order is commonly known as an “order of protection” or “restraining order.”

To obtain an order of protection, the victim must file a petition with the court that outlines the details of the stalking behavior and the harm it has caused. The court will then hold a hearing to determine if an order of protection is necessary.

If the court grants the order of protection, it will specify what the stalker is prohibited from doing, such as contacting or coming near the victim, and the duration of the order. Violating an order of protection is a criminal offense and can result in arrest and prosecution.

Victims of stalking can seek help from the police or from organizations that provide support and assistance to victims of domestic violence and stalking, such as the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Defenses Of Stalking In New York

In New York, there are several defenses to stalking that a defendant may raise in court. Some of these defenses include:

  • Lack of intent: The defendant can argue that they did not intend to cause fear, emotional distress, or harm to the victim.
  • Legitimate purpose: The defendant can argue that their behavior was not stalking, but rather a legitimate purpose, such as conducting business or attending a public event.
  • Consent: The defendant can argue that the victim consented to their behavior and did not express any objection.
  • Free speech: The defendant can argue that their behavior was protected by the First Amendment, such as engaging in peaceful protests or expressing political opinions.
  • Mistaken identity: The defendant can argue that they were not the one stalking the victim, but rather a mistaken identity.

It’s important to note that each case is unique and the defenses available will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help the defendant determine the best course of action.

New York Cyberstalking Laws

Although cyberstalking isn’t specifically addressed under New York law as it is right now, it may be claimed that the state’s present stalking rules apply to it. It can be argued that email, messenger apps, and other internet-based modes of contact do fall under the description of “initiating communication” if you look at the wording of PEN §  120.45, which is posted above.

In New York, cyberstalking is illegal and is considered a crime under the state’s penal code. The following are the key provisions of New York’s cyberstalking laws:

  • Definition of Cyberstalking: Cyberstalking is defined as the use of electronic communication, such as the internet, email, social media, or text messages, to harass, intimidate, or threaten another person.
  • Prohibited Conduct: Cyberstalking is prohibited if it involves a course of conduct, which means a pattern of behavior consisting of two or more acts, over a period of time, that are directed at a specific person and that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others.
  • Criminal Offense: Cyberstalking is a criminal offense in New York and is punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense. If the offender has a prior conviction for cyberstalking, the penalties may be increased to up to four years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Orders of Protection: Victims of cyberstalking in New York can seek an order of protection from the court, which is a legal order that requires the offender to stay away from the victim and refrain from any further contact.
  • Jurisdiction: New York’s cyberstalking laws apply to any person who engages in cyberstalking while physically present in the state, or who targets a victim who is physically present in the state.

It’s important to note that cyberstalking can have serious consequences and can cause emotional distress, fear, and anxiety for victims. If you are a victim of cyberstalking, it’s important to report the incident to the police and seek legal help to protect yourself from further harm.

Stalking And Domestic Violence In New York

Stalking and domestic violence in New York are two serious crimes that can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. In New York, laws have been put in place to protect victims and punish perpetrators of these crimes.

Stalking is a pattern of behavior that involves unwanted and repeated contact or communication with a person that causes them to feel afraid or harassed. This can include following the victim, sending unwanted gifts or messages, or monitoring their online activity. In New York, stalking is a criminal offense punishable by up to four years in prison. Additionally, victims can obtain orders of protection to prevent the perpetrator from contacting them.

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that involves physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting. In New York, domestic violence is also a criminal offense and can result in imprisonment, fines, and other penalties. Victims can obtain orders of protection and seek counseling and support services to help them recover from the trauma of the abuse.

One challenge in addressing these crimes is that victims may be reluctant to come forward or seek help due to fear of retaliation or shame. New York has taken steps to address this by offering a range of resources for victims, including hotlines, shelters, and counseling services. Additionally, the state has implemented training programs for law enforcement and other professionals to improve their understanding of stalking and domestic violence and how to respond appropriately.

Despite these efforts, stalking and domestic violence continue to be pervasive problems in New York and across the country. It is important for individuals to speak out against these crimes and for communities to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable. By working together, we can create safer and more supportive environments for everyone.

Law Enforcement Response To Stalking In New York

In New York, law enforcement agencies take stalking very seriously and have implemented policies and procedures to respond effectively to reports of stalking.

One important aspect of the law enforcement response to stalking in New York is the use of orders of protection. Victims of stalking can obtain a court order that prohibits the perpetrator from contacting or coming near them. Violation of an order of protection is a criminal offense and can result in arrest and imprisonment. Law enforcement agencies in New York are trained to enforce orders of protection and take violations seriously.

Law enforcement agencies also work closely with other organizations to provide support and resources to victims of stalking. This includes partnering with victim services agencies, such as Safe Horizon and the Crime Victims Treatment Center, to provide counseling and other support services to victims. Additionally, law enforcement agencies in New York have established specialized units to investigate stalking cases and provide victims with dedicated support.

In addition to responding to reports of stalking, law enforcement agencies in New York also work to prevent stalking through education and awareness campaigns. This includes providing information to the public about stalking and how to identify and report it. Law enforcement agencies also work with schools and community organizations to provide training and education on the issue.

Resources To Help Stalking Cases In New York

There are a number of resources available in New York to help victims of stalking. Here are some organizations and websites that victims can turn to for assistance:

  • Safe Horizon – Safe Horizon is a victim services agency that provides counseling, advocacy, and other support services to victims of stalking and other crimes. They have offices throughout New York City and can be reached at (800) 621-4673. Visit their website at: https://www.safehorizon.org/
  • The Crime Victims Treatment Center – The Crime Victims Treatment Center provides free counseling and support services to victims of stalking and other crimes in the New York City area. They can be reached at (212) 523-4728. Visit their website at: https://www.cvtcnyc.org/
  • The New York State Office of Victim Services – The New York State Office of Victim Services provides financial assistance, counseling, and other support services to victims of crimes in New York. They can be reached at (800) 247-8035. Visit their website at: https://ovs.ny.gov/
  • The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence – The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence is an organization that provides resources and support to victims of domestic violence and stalking throughout New York. They can be reached at (518) 482-5465. Visit their website at: https://www.nyscadv.org/
  • The New York City Police Department – The New York City Police Department has a specialized unit called the Domestic Violence Unit that investigates stalking and other domestic violence cases. Victims can contact the unit directly at (646) 610-7272. Visit their website at: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/bureaus/patrol/operations-division/domestic-violence-unit.page

These are just a few of the many resources available to victims of stalking in New York. Victims can also contact their local police department or district attorney’s office for more information and assistance.

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