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New York Assault On A Social Worker

In New York as in other jurisdictions across the country violence against social workers has been a problem for years. Social workers have been beaten, stabbed, shot and assaulted in other ways while trying to do their jobs. In the most extreme cases social workers have lost their lives. Because of such attacks on social workers the New York legislature has included them as a part of a class of professionals that need additional protection under the assault statute. This means that if you assault and injure a social worker while that person is attempting to do his or her job, you will be charge with a serious felony. As a consequence you could end up in prison for several years. Thus, if you are in need of a criminal lawyer because you have been charged with assault on a social worker contact a New York Assault on a Social Worker Lawyer as it is important to be represented by someone with experience who will vigorously defend you from the time you are arrested until your case is resolved. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have decades of experience representing clients who have been charged with assault and other serious crimes such as domestic violence, DWI, grand larceny, and sex crimes. Find out what we can do for you by contacting us to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

Assault on social worker defined

Under New York's assault statute, assault on a social worker is a type of second degree assault. Law § 120.05(3). The following factors must be present to commit the offense of assault on a social worker

  • The victim must be an employee of a public social services organization
  • The victim must be directly involved in an investigation of alleged abuse or neglect of a child, vulnerable elderly person, incompetent person, or physically disabled person, or in providing public assistance and care to such a person
  • You must have the intent to prevent the victim from investigating the alleged abuse or providing public assistance or care
  • You must have caused physical injury to the victim

It is a class D felony.

To be charged with this offense the injury to the victim does not have to be a serious physical injury. It just must be a physical injury. This means that it is not necessary that the injury be so severe that there is a risk of death or permanent disfigurement. It means that the victim must suffer an injury that causes impairment or substantial pain. For example, in People v. Powell, 984 N.Y.S.2d 633 (2013) defendant Tory Powell was convicted of assault after punching the victim in the face and back, requiring the victim to seek medical treatment at a hospital.


Type of Injury. An assault in the second degree based on assaulting a social worker requires that the victim's injury be serious enough that the victim suffered impairment or substantial pain. If the injury does not meet that standard of seriousness, then you will have a valid defense against an assault on a social worker charge. For example, in People v. Rodriguez, 158 A.D.2d 376 (1990) the defendant was convicted of assault based on punching the victim in the leg. However, on appeal the conviction was overturned. The court found that the only evidence of the severity of the injuries was the victim's testimony that the blows hurt "a lot" and photographs of some bruising. There was no other evidence of the after affects of the blows. The court concluded that the victim did not suffer an impairment or substantial pain.


If you are convicted of assault in the second degree your sentence will include prison, payment of fines and fees, and post-release supervision.


Assault in the second degree is a class D felony. The maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.02. Because assault in the second degree is also a violent felony the judge is required to impose a minimum sentence of 2 years in prison. Your sentence will be determinate, meaning that it will be a set period of years and not a range of years. The most important factor that will determine the actual length of your prison sentence is your criminal history. Depending on your history you may be labeled as a offender with no prior convictions, with a non-violent felony conviction, with a violent felony conviction, or with 2 or more prior felony convictions.

  • Prior convictions: Prior convictions include felony convictions within the last 10 years.
  • Non-violent predicate: A non-violent felony conviction within the last 10 years.
  • Violent predicate: A violent felony conviction within the last 10 years.
  • Persistent felony offender: At least 2 prior felony convictions.

If you have no prior convictions, then the minimum prison sentence you will receive is 2 years. The court will not have the option of sentencing you to no prison time. If your status is that of a non-violent predicate offender, then the court will sentence you to at least 3 years, while if you are a violent predicate offender, you will be sentenced to at least 5 years in prison. If you are a persistent felony offender, then the minimum sentence you will receive is 12-25 years in prison and the maximum sentence is life in prison. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.08. Because assault in the second degree is a violent felony offense, you will be required to serve 6/7 of your sentence before you will be eligible for release.

Post-release supervision

If convicted of assault in the second degree based on assaulting a social worker part of your sentence will also include a term of post-release supervision of 1.5-3 years. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.45(e). Your post-release supervision will be overseen by the Division of Parole. There will be several rules that you must follow while you are on post-release supervision, and you will be assigned to a Parole Officer to whom you must regularly report. Your post-release supervision rules may include that:

  • You must not commit a crime
  • You must not associate with other people who you know have criminal records
  • You must not patronize disreputable places
  • You must not possess a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia
  • You must consent to warrantless searches
  • You must submit to home visits by your Parole Officer
  • You must regularly report to your Parole Officer
  • You cannot leave the State of New York without permission
  • You must now own, possess or purchase a gun
  • You must refrain from consuming alcohol
  • You must submit to drug testing
  • You must stick to a curfew
  • You must have job

It is of critical importance that you follow each of the rules regarding your post-release supervision. If you fail you risk having your post-release supervision revoked and being sent back to prison.

Fines, fees and restitution

There will also be financial consequences to being convicted of assault on a social worker. The law requires that you pay various fees including a victim assistance fee of $25 and a mandatory surcharge of up to $300. Furthermore, the law allows the judge to order you to pay a fine of up to $5000. On top of that you may be ordered to pay restitution to your victim. Generally, the maximum restitution is $15,000. However, the court may increase the amount to more than $15,000 to cover the amount of the victim's medical expenses. If you do not pay a fine, fee or restitution, you may be charged with a misdemeanors and sent to prison for up to a year, your wages may be garnished or the state of New York may obtain a judgment against you. However, if you cannot pay the judge may adjust the payment terms, lower the amount you must pay, or revoke the part of the sentencing requiring you to pay.

Long-term consequences

In addition to going to prison and the financial consequences of being convicted of assault on a social worker, there will be additional consequences that will last for many years into the future. You will have a criminal record that will make several aspects of your life more challenging such as getting a job. In fact, you will be barred from working in certain professions such as being a teacher or a lawyer. In addition, you will not be able to own a gun, serve in the military, or serve on juries. You will also not be eligible to receive certain government benefits such as welfare or federally funded housing.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Being accused of assaulting a social worker is serious. A conviction will result in you being sent to prison, losing precious time with your loved ones. In addition, you will be required to pay thousands of dollars in fines. Your criminal record will make it challenging for you to pursue the career of your choice and you will be ineligible for government benefits. However, there are defenses to a charge of assault on a social worker that only someone with experience will understand. Thus, if you have been arrested for assault on a social worker it is important to immediately contact someone who understands both substantive New York criminal law and the New York criminal court system. 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 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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