Suffolk County Domestic Violence and Harassment

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

Domestic violence is a general term used to describe crimes where the defendant and the victim are in a domestic relationship such as being married, living together, sharing children or dating. 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. If you are convicted of harassment you could end up spending time in jail. Thus, if you have been charged with harassment stemming from a domestic incident it is important that you immediately contact an experienced Suffolk County Domestic Violence and Harassment Lawyer who will explain to you your legal rights and who will work closely with you to defend you against the charges.

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, push, kick, or in any way come into physical contact with that person, or threaten to do so; you follow that person in a public place; or you engagein a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts that serve no legitimate purpose and that alarm or seriously annoy that person. It is not a crime but a violation. N.Y. Pen. Law § 240.36.

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.

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 using a telephone, mail, or any other type of written communication such as email, in a manner that is likely to annoy or alarm that person.
  • 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

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.

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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1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529)