The act of persistently following someone or interacting with them in a way that makes them feel threatened is known as stalking. Stalking in New York can be carried out by conventional means, such as following someone on foot or in a car, or by making a regular appearance at locations where the victim is also present. Another way to do it is to follow someone else using GPS technology. Another instance of stalking is continuing to phone, email, or text someone after they have asked you to stop. Also, visiting someone’s workplace or contacting them while they are there constitutes stalking as does endanger their job, business, or career.
The priority of law enforcement is the arrest and prosecution of those who are suspected of stalking because any form of stalker activity is not only aggravating but also has the potential to degenerate into violent criminal behavior. Law enforcement, however, is not always accurate, and occasionally harmless behavior is misinterpreted for criminal stalking. The repercussions of being found guilty of stalking can be severe.
You can be sentenced to jail time and be made to pay a large fine. Contacting a New York stalking attorney who is knowledgeable about the criminal stalking statute and who will vigorously defend you against the allegations is essential if you have been accused of stalking.
Type Of Stalking 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. Whereas stalking in the second and first degrees is a felony, stalking in the fourth and third degrees is a misdemeanor.
Stalking in the First Degree
The act of stalking is commonly understood to involve persistently contacting, texting, or emailing a target until it becomes obnoxious. Yet stalking involves far more than only causing someone annoyance. Stalking is, at the very least, the act of following, tracking, calling, emailing, texting, or otherwise engaging with someone so regularly and in such a way that they feel threatened for their personal safety. If you do this, you will have committed the fourth-degree misdemeanor crime of stalking. Stalking in the first degree is a Class D felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.60
Stalking in the Second Degree
Stalking in the second degree is very similar to stalking in the third degree in that both crimes involve engaging in behavior that makes the victim fear that you will harm them physically, kidnap them, commit a sex crime, or engage in a sex offense. However, the difference between the two crimes is that stalking in the second degree also involves the display of a weapon. Or you do it after having been convicted of a primary sex offense within the previous five years. Perhaps you perform it ten times in ten different ways against at least ten different people.
Stalking in the second degree is a Class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.55
Stalking in the Third Degree
The offense of stalking in the third degree is the same as stalking in the fourth degree except that:
- You stalk 3 or more different people on at least 3 separate occasions; or
- Within the prior 10 years, you were convicted of one of the following predicate crimes: sexual misconduct, rape in the third degree, rape in the second degree, a criminal sexual act in the third degree, a criminal sexual act in the second degree, sexual abuse in the third degree, sexual abuse in the second degree, aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree, incest in the third degree, incest in the second degree or incest in the first degree. The stalking victim and the predicate crime victim must be the same or the predicate crime victim must be a member of the stalking victim’s family.
- Intending to annoy, harass or alarm the victim, you engage in a course of conduct that is likely to cause that person to fear that you will physically harm, kidnap, commit a sex offense, or commit the crime of unlawful imprisonment against that person or that or that person’s immediate family.
- Within the last 10 years, you have been convicted of stalking in the fourth degree.
Stalking in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 120.50
Stalking in the Fourth Degree
You will face this charge if you intentionally engage in a course of conduct that is directed toward a specific person that:
- Is likely to cause reasonable fear of physical harm to that person, that person’s family, or to that person’s property
- Causes harm to that person’s mental or emotional health, where that conduct is following, telephoning or initiating contact with that person or an acquaintance of that person after he or she told you to stop. The following includes tracking another person using GPS.
- Is likely to cause that person to fear that his or her job, business, or career is at risk because your stalking conduct includes showing up at that person’s job or telephoning or in some other way communicating with that person at his or her job.
Stalking in the fourth degree is a Class B misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 120.45-120.60
What Are The Charges Of Stalking Stalking In New York?
The specific stalking offense for which you are found guilty will affect the sentence you receive if you are found guilty of stalking. You may receive a prison term, probation, a fine, restitution, probation, or any combination of these penalties as part of your sentencing.
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.
Stalking in the second degree
The penalties for a Class E felony include up to $5,000 in fines and 4 years in state prison. If you haven’t been convicted of a felony in the last ten years, the court may choose to sentence you to probation instead of prison. The minimum jail term you will serve if you have a prior felony conviction within the last ten years is 1.5 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 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.
The judge may require you to make restitution as part of your punishment. To compensate for out-of-pocket costs brought on by your offense, restitution is given to the victim. For instance, the court can require you to cover the victim’s medical costs if you hurt them. The court may order you to pay for the cost of repairing or replacing the victim’s property if you cause damage to it.
In most cases, the maximum restitution is $10,000 for misdemeanors and $15,000 for felonies. But, if, for instance, the victim’s medical costs are more than the general statutory cap, the law permits the judge to order you to pay a higher amount of restitution.
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 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.
Hiring A Lawyer In Stalking Cases In New York
If you are dealing with a stalking case in New York and need to hire a lawyer, here are some steps you can take:
- Research and find a lawyer with experience in stalking cases: Look for lawyers who have experience in handling stalking cases in New York. You can search online, check with the New York State Bar Association, or ask for referrals from friends or family members.
- Schedule a consultation: Once you have identified potential lawyers, schedule a consultation to discuss your case. During the consultation, the lawyer can assess the strength of your case and provide you with an idea of the potential outcomes.
- Ask about fees: Make sure you understand how the lawyer charges for their services. Some lawyers may charge a flat fee, while others may charge by the hour.
- Evaluate communication: Pay attention to how well the lawyer communicates with you during the consultation. Do they listen to you, answer your questions clearly, and explain the legal process in a way you can understand?
- Consider your comfort level: It is important that you feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose. You will be sharing sensitive information with them, so it is crucial to choose someone you feel you can trust.
- Check their credentials: Make sure the lawyer you choose is licensed to practice law in New York and in good standing with the New York State Bar Association.
- Review their track record: Look for a lawyer with a strong track record of success in handling stalking cases in New York. You can check their website or online reviews for testimonials from past clients.
- Make your decision: After considering all of these factors, choose the lawyer who you believe will best represent your interests and help you achieve a positive outcome in your case.