New York Penal Code § 120.45: Stalking in the fourth degree

Stalking involves repeated, seemingly obsessive, and unwanted behavior toward another person. As a result that person feels emotionally, mentally or physically threatened. Stalking behavior can include a variety of activities such as following, telephoning, emailing, and texting. It can also involve showing up at a person's place of employment, or sending someone messages through another person. Stalking in the fourth degree is the least serious stalking offense and is one of 2 stalking offenses that are misdemeanors. Under New York Penal Code § 120.45 you will be charged with stalking in the fourth degree if you do one of the following:

  • Repeatedly follow, track or communicate with another person in a way that makes that person think that you might physically harm that person, harm that person's family or damage that person's property, or

  • Repeatedly follow, track or communicate with another person in a way that makes that causes the person to have mental or emotional harm, or

  • Show up at another's job or business, or communicate with that person at his or her job or business such that you put his or her job, business or career at risk.

Example

In People v. Tomossone, 961 N.Y.S.2d 360 (2013), the prosecutor presented evidence that after the Tomossone's supervisor suspended Tomossone, Tomossone began to stalk his supervisor by following him to his home and to other places in the area. Tomossone was convicted of stalking in the fourth degree.

Related Offenses
  1. Kidnapping in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 135.20
  2. Harassment in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 240.25
  3. Aggravated harassment in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 240.30
Defenses

To be convicted of stalking in the fourth degree the prosecutor must show that your behavior had no legitimate purpose. If the person that you are contacting owes you money, for example, you repeatedly contacting them may be annoying but it also may not be stalking. Using reasonable efforts to collect a debt is not the same as stalking.

Sentence

Because stalking in the fourth degree is a Class B misdemeanor if you are convicted you could be sent to jail for up to 3 months and you may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $500. It is also possible that in lieu of jail the court may order you to serve a probation term of 1 year.

New York Penal Code § 120.45: Stalking in the fourth degree

A person is guilty of stalking in the fourth degree when he or she intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, and knows or reasonably should know that such conduct:

  1. is likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property of such person, a member of such person's immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted; or

  2. causes material harm to the mental or emotional health of such initiating communication or contact with such person, a member of such person's immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct; or

  3. is likely to cause such person to reasonably fear that his or her employment, business or career is threatened, where such conduct consists of appearing, telephoning or initiating communication or contact at such person's place of employment or business, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct.

For the purposes of subdivision two of this section, "following" shall include the unauthorized tracking of such person's movements or location through the use of a global positioning system or other device.

The Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help

Even though stalking in the fourth degree is only a Class B misdemeanor it is still a crime with serious ramifications. You will end up with a criminal record. You will have to pay a fine and fees. And you are likely to be placed on probation for a year. The best way to avoid these consequences is to be represented by someone with experience. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with misdemeanors and felonies such as assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, menacing, reckless endangerment, stalking, rape, and child endangerment. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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