Queens Domestic Violence and Harassment

N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.25, 240.30 & 240.36

Domestic violence is loosely defined as a type of crime where the victim has a domestic relationship with the defendant. A domestic relationship refers to family relationships, dating relationships, or household relationships. Examples of domestic relationships include spouses or former spouses, boyfriend or girlfriend, housemates and those who have children together. Because such relationships can involve complicated emotions, criminal behavior sometimes occurs. While many think that domestic violence only involves acts of violence that result in injury such as assault, sexual assault, strangulation, or murder, domestic violence encompasses a wide range of criminal offenses that also includes harassment where there is no physical injury. Harassment involves simply repeatedly bothering or annoying another person by making unwanted phone calls, sending emails, or mailing letters to the other person with the intent of annoying or harassing that person. It can also involve following or physically touching the victim. While harassment is a type of domestic violence that is less serious than many other types, certain types of harassment are crimes. If you are convicted you could end up spending time in jail. Thus, if you have been charged with harassment stemming from a domestic disturbance it is important that you immediately contact an experienced Queens Domestic Violence and Harassment Lawyer who understands both the intricacies of domestic relationships as well as the nuances of New York assault law, and who will aggressively defend you until your case is resolved.

Types of harassment charges

There are 3 harassment offenses in the New York criminal statute that are commonly involved in a domestic disturbance. Harassment in the second degree is the least serious harassment offense. In fact, is not considered a crime, but a violation. Harassment in the first degree and aggravated harassment in the second degree are misdemeanors.

Harassment in the second degree. You will face this charge if you intend to harass, annoy, or alarm another person and you hit, kick or in any way come into physical contact with that person, or threaten to do so; or you follow that person in a public place; or you engage in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts that serve no legitimate purpose and that alarm or seriously annoy that person. Harassment in the second degree is not considered a crime, but a violation. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.36.

Harassment in the first degree. You will face this charge if you repeatedly follow someone in a public place or engage in a course of conduct that places another person in fear of physical injury. It is a Class B misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.25.

Aggravated harassment in the second degree. This part of the New York harassment statute is often referred to as the phone harassment statute. While there are 4 types of conduct that can lead to an aggravated harassment in the second degree charge, the 2 types of conduct that most often lead to being charged with this offense involve telephone communication. You will face this charge if you intend to harass, annoy, or alarm another person and you communicate with another person anonymously in a manner that is likely to annoy or alarm that person, or you make a telephone call with no legitimate purpose. It does matter if there is an actual conversation or not. Aggravated harassment in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.30

Harassment vs. assault. While at first glance harassment in the second degree may seem like the same offense as assault, it is not. The most significant difference is that for an assault charge the victim must have suffered a physical injury, while for a harassment charge no physical injury is required.

Arrest and Arraignment

If the police suspect that you have committed the crime of harassment you will be arrested and taken to the local police precinct. At the local precinct your personal information will be taken and you will be fingerprinted. Because menacing is not a felony you may be given a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) and permitted to go home. The DAT will have details as to when and where you must appear for your arraignment. If for some reason the police do not give you a DAT, then you will be taken to Central Booking where you will remain until your arraignment. Within approximately 24 hours of your arrest you will be arraigned.

Consequences of a harassment conviction

Because harassment does not result in a physical injury to the victim, the punishment for harassment are relatively mild. In fact, because harassment in the second degree is a violation and not a misdemeanor or felony, the only punishment that you will receive is a fine. Harassment in the first degree and aggravated harassment in the second degree are misdemeanors. If you are convicted there is a good possibility that you will not have to spend much if any time in jail. Instead, you may be sentenced to just probation and a fine.

Prison and Fines

  • Harassment in the first degree is a Class B misdemeanor. The maximum possible sentence is 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
  • Aggravated harassment in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum possible sentence is 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Probation

If your sentence for being convicted of harassment includes probation, the probation term will be 3 years. While probation is preferable to incarceration, probation has many restrictions. There will be several rules that you will be required to follow such as:

  • You must not break any laws
  • You must not associate with people who you know to have criminal records
  • You must not go to unlawful or disreputable places
  • You must not use or possess controlled substances or drug paraphernalia
  • You must submit to drug testing
  • You must consent to warrantless searches
  • You must submit to home visits by your Probation Officer
  • You must regularly report to your Probation Officer
  • You must not leave the State of New York without permission
  • You must not consume alcohol excessively
  • You must have a job or be enrolled in school
  • You must abide by any court orders including payment of fines
  • If you move or change jobs you must let your Probation Officer know

Violating any of the terms attached to your probation can result in additional criminal charges, revocation of your probation, and being sent to prison.

Additional criminal charges

Beware that if you are arrested for harassment depending on the facts of your case, you may also be charged with additional crimes such as menacing, attempted assault, and criminal mischief. Any additional charges could result in convictions for additional crimes. This would greatly impact the severity of your sentence.

Long-Term Consequences

While harassment in the first degree and aggravated harassment in the second degree are both misdemeanors, they are still crimes. This means that if you are convicted you will have a criminal record. Unfortunately, having a criminal record may negatively impact some aspects of your life for a long time after you complete your jail term, complete your probation, or pay your fine. For example, you may experience some difficulties finding a job as many employers will resist hiring someone with any type of criminal record even if the offense was just a misdemeanor.

Being arrested for domestic violence based on harassment may at first seem minor. After all domestic violence harassment is not a felony and the possible jail term is brief. However, harassment is a crime and if you are convicted your life will be affected. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with harassment, domestic violence, as well as other criminal offenses such as menacing, assault, reckless endangerment, strangulation, stalking, 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 domestic violence in the following locations:

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