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NY Penal Law § 120.18: Menacing a police officer or peace officer

Menacing is a criminal offense that involves putting another person in fear of imminent physical injury or death by use of a threat. It is not necessary that you actually harm another person or that you even come in physical contact with another person. It is enough that your threatening actions cause another person to have a reasonable fear of imminent physical injury or death. There is a specific law designed to punish those who menace law enforcement officers using a deadly weapon. Under New York Penal Code § 120.18 it is a class D felony to threaten a police officer who is performing his or her lawful duties. To be prosecuted for this crime you must have displayed a deadly weapon such as a firearm or knife. In addition, you must have been aware that the person was a police officer.


A uniformed police officer responds to a report of a burglary in progress at a residence. The officer arrives just as a man is fleeing from the home carrying a large duffle bag. The police officer identifies himself and orders the man to stop. The man points an unloaded gun at the officer. Among other things this man could be prosecuted for menacing a police officer or a peace officer because he threatened a uniformed police officer with a firearm. Under the statute it is irrelevant that the gun was not loaded and therefore could not have harmed the officer.

Related Offenses
  1. Assault in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 120.05
  2. Assault on a peace officer, police officer, fireman or emergency medical services professional: New York Penal Code § 120.08
  3. Aggravated assault upon a police officer or a peace officer: New York Penal Code § 120.11

To be convicted of menacing a police officer or peace officer, the prosecutor must prove that you knew or should have known that the victim was a police officer or peace officer. If the officer was not in uniform and did not identify him or herself as a police officer, the prosecutor would have a difficult time proving that you knew or should have known that the person was a police officer. In addition, even if you did know that the person was a police officer the officer must have been in the process of performing his or her lawful duty.


Menacing a police officer or peace officer is a class D felony. The maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison. Because it is also classified as a violent felony, the judge is required to impose a minimum sentence of 2 years in prison. The actual length of your prison sentence will depend on factors such as your prior criminal record. If you one or more prior felony convictions, your sentence will include at least 2-5 years in prison.

New York Penal Code § 120.18: Menacing a police officer or peace officer

A person is guilty of menacing a police officer or peace officer when he or she intentionally places or attempts to place a police officer or peace officer in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a deadly weapon, knife, pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm, whether operable or not, where such officer was in the course of performing his or her official duties and the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that such victim was a police officer or peace officer.

The Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help

The consequences of committing a crime against a law enforcement officer while the officer is trying to do his or her job is that you will be sent to prison. You will end up with a criminal record that includes a violent felony offense. This will make many aspects of your life following prison more challenging. However, there may be defenses that could result in the charges against you being reduced or dropped. 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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