New York Penal Code § 121.11: Criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation

It is against the law to cause someone to stop breathing or to obstruct that person's ability to breathe. In other words, it is a crime to choke or strangle another person. Such actions are considered very serious by New York law enforcement because they often lead to severe injuries and even death. In the New York Penal Code choking another person is referred to as criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation. Under New York Penal Code § 121.11 you can be prosecuted for criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation if you apply pressure on the throat or neck of another person or block the nose or mouth, with intent to impede that person's normal breathing or circulation of blood.

Example

In People v. Figueroa, 968 N.Y.S.2d 866 (2013), the defendant was convicted of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation based on applying pressure to his girlfriend's neck causing her to struggle for air. Witnesses observed the man place his left hand on the woman's throat and his right hand on the back of her neck. The woman's color turned white, her eyes bugged out and she struggled for air. Witnesses stated that the choking lasted for about 2-3 seconds.

Related Offenses
  1. Strangulation in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 121.12
  2. Strangulation in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 121.13
Defenses

The criminal code provides a statutory defense to a charge of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation. Under New York Penal Code § 121. 14, if your actions are pursuant to a valid medical or dental purpose, then you may have a defense to a choking or strangulation charge.

In addition, if you can show that your intent was not to impede that person's normal breathing or circulation of blood, then you have a defense to a charge of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation.

Sentence

As a class A misdemeanor if you are convicted of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation charge the maximum sentence that you could receive is 1 year in jail. It is also possible for the judge to sentence you to no jail time. Instead, your sentence may be a probation term of 3 years.

It is important to understand that criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation is classified as a family offense. This means that if the choking occurred in relation to a domestic violence incident, the prosecution of your case may be subject to the special rules related to concurrent jurisdiction under Criminal Procedure Law § 140.10(4).

New York Penal Code § 121.11: Criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation

A person is guilty of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation when, with intent to impede the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another person, he or she:

  1. applies pressure on the throat or neck of such person; or
  2. blocks the nose or mouth of such person.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

You may be inclined to think that criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation is not a big deal because it is a misdemeanor. However, a misdemeanor conviction could send you to jail for a year. 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 felonies and misdemeanors in violation of New York state law and federal law. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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