Stalking is a serious criminal offense in New York. Under New York Law, there are four classifications of stalking—Fourth Degree, Third Degree, Second Degree, and First Degree. Even the least serious of stalking charges can have a lasting impact on your life. If you have been accused, you probably feel scared and confused. You may feel like you did nothing wrong and that there is a big misunderstanding. You probably don’t understand how the alleged victim felt frightened by you. If this is the case, you need a NY criminal defense attorney to prove that your actions were taken out of context.
Under New York Law, stalking in the Fourth Degree is a Class D Misdemeanor and carries a maximum of up to 90 days in jail. NY penal laws define stalking as the unwarranted pursuit of another person and not a one-time event. Instead, it is characterized as a pattern of malicious and willful behavior. A person is guilty of stalking in the Fourth Degree if they intentionally and for no legitimate purpose in a course of conduct directed at a particular person knowingly or should have knowledge that such action:
- Is likely to cause fear of personal physical harm or fear about safety of property of the victim, a family member or acquaintance
- Causes harm mentally or emotionally to the victim by calling, initiating communication or contact with the person
- Is likely to cause the victim reasonable fear that their business, career, employment will be threatened by appearing, telephoning, initiating communication or contact and the accused person had earlier been told to cease such conduct
To put this in more simple terms, an alleged victim of stalking behavior does not have to actually be in fear. Rather, the actions must be likely to cause fear. Behaving in an obnoxious manner that is not threatening is generally not sufficient enough to establish that someone is guilty of stalking. There must be a ”likelihood” that the offender’s behaviors will cause someone to have “reasonable” fear of harm or action. The term reasonable in this context relies heavily on the history that precipitated the stalker’s behavior. The victim may experience reasonable fear based on their past experiences with their stalker. To prove there is a reasonable likelihood of fear, the court must prove that there is direct, circumstantial, implicit, or historical evidence of violent or intimidating behavior.
If you have been charged with stalking it is best to immediately contact a NY criminal defense attorney. Due to the seriousness of this law in New York, cases can be a hard nut to crack. At the Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel, Esq. we have the resources, expertise, exposure and dedication to get you the best outcome. Call us for a free consultation at (718) 575-3900.