One of the biggest issues with coercion charges in New York is that the same legal language is used to define felony coercion as is used to define misdemeanor coercion. As a result, many prosecutors will seek the most severe charge. Under New York statutes, coercion is described as compelling or inducing someone to engage in conduct that they have a legal right not to engage. Likewise, the charge also implies that coercion is compelling someone not to engage in conduct that they have a legal right to engage in. For coercion charges to be filed, the compelling behavior must have been done in a matter that instilled fear that if the demand were not agreed upon, physical injury or damage to property would occur.
Coercion Penal Code
New York Penal Code defines coercion in two degrees; 135.60 and 135.65. One coercion charge is a misdemeanor, 135.60, and the other is a felony, 135.65. The felony charge of coercion comes with stiffer penalties than the misdemeanor charge and can also result in the loss of the ability to vote and other losses. Anyone accused of coercion in New York needs a reputable defense attorney to represent them. While an attorney will work to provide you with knowledgeable defense, it is also important to educate yourself regarding the charges.
Guilty of Coercion
Several times, the uniqueness of coercion charges have been challenged. It is believed that the state uses the same language for both charges as a safety measure. Through appellate decisions, a person is guilty of coercion in the first degree if they commit coercion in the second degree and instill fear in a victim to commit a certain task. Where the harsher charge comes into play is if the defendant coerces the victim to commit a felony, attempts to cause harm to a person, or requires the victim to violate his duty as a public servant.
Charged with Coercion
Coercion in the first degree is a class D felony and punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. A court may also impose a fine of $5,000 or double the amount of the defendant’s gain from the crime. Second-degree coercion is a class A misdemeanor and punishable by one year in prison and a fine of $1,000. Both the fine and jail time can be imposed.
A criminal defense attorney might be able to create a viable defense for a defendant facing coercion charges if the defendant was urging the victim to make good on a wrong. For example, if a defendant was instilling a fear that the other person would be charged with a crime if they committed an act coercion charges would not apply.
To discuss the coercion charges you are facing, contact Stephan Siegel, Esq. Mr. Siegel has practiced law for over three decades and appeared in court over 1200 times. Contact his law office today and count on him to evaluate your case and recommend the appropriate course of action.