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What is Stalking in New York?


What is Stalking in New York?

Do you know what behaviors could get you charged with stalking in New York? Sometimes behavior that one might believe is purely persistent can cross the line into an illegal act.

To avoid this problem, understand what stalking is.

What does it mean to stalk someone?

Stalking is defined as “a pattern of following or repeatedly contacting another person in a way that causes reasonable fear.” The pattern must be established at more than one time and in more than one place.

There are four degrees of this crime. Stalking in the 3rd and 4th degree is a misdemeanor. Stalking in the 2nd and 1st degree is a felony.

One of the biggest litmus tests of whether you were stalking someone is whether the victim asked you to stop. Ignoring a request by any person which demands that you cease contact with them could be grounds for a stalking charge later.

The degree of stalking depends on what the stalker does. In the 4th degree, the stalker’s behavior causes the party to have a reasonable fear that they will be caused mental or physical harm, or that their employment, business, or career has been endangered by the contact with themselves or with a member of their immediate family.

As soon as a victim tells you to stop and you don’t, it becomes stalking in the 3rd degree. At that point, your behavior is treated as if it was deliberately intended to harass, annoy, or alarm the victim. It is also a 3rd degree crime if the victim has a reasonable fear that the contact is likely to result in serious physical injury, a sex crime, or a kidnapping.

Stalking performed with a firearm moves to the second degree, as does stalking where the perpetrator is 21 or over and the complainant is younger than 14.

Stalking becomes a 1st degree crime where you’re accused of stalking in the 2nd or 3rd degree and either intentionally or recklessly the perpetrator causes physical injury to the victim of the crime or commits a sex crime.

Keep in mind that previous offenses for any crimes can increase the degree of the stalking charge, and that stalking charges may be “stacked” with other charges to increase your sentence. 

What happens during a stalking case?

Once you are arrested and charged the judge will typically enter a Temporary Order of Protection which keeps you away from the person who you have been accused of harassing. This order will typically ban you from contacting the other party by any means whatsoever, including social media.

It will also typically ban you from the complainant’s home, workplace, and school, as well as the home, workplace, and school of any member of the immediate family.

If you are the subject of an order of protection it is very important that you read it thoroughly and understand exactly what you are being ordered not to do. If you break an order of protection you can be arrested and charged with contempt of court.  

The Temporary Protection Order will typically be renewed every 6 months while the case is ongoing.

What happens if you lose your stalking case?

First, the judge will enter a “Final Order of Protection” which permanently keeps you from contacting the victim. 

Defending a Stalking Charge

In some cases we can get a misdemeanor stalking charge talked down to a 3rd degree harassment charge, which is a civil violation and which doesn’t show up on your criminal record. We’ve also had some success with deferred adjudication agreements.

There are also times when we can challenge the facts of the case. For example, we may be able to show you were never following the victim: you were simply traveling to the same place. Or we can bring in evidence that shows the victim misled law enforcement about the facts of the case, or that yo were misidentified.

If you’re in trouble, don’t wait. Get help from an experienced criminal lawyer today.

See also:

Can a Felony Charge be Reduced to a Misdemeanor Charge?

Should You Testify on Your Own Behalf on a Misdemeanor Case?

How an Orange County Criminal Lawyer Gets Charges Dismissed

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