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NY Penal Law § 121.12: Strangulation in the second degree

It is against the law to cause someone to stop breathing or to obstruct that person's ability to breath. If you do so you could cause that person to suffer a serious injury or you could cause that person to die. Under New York law there are 3 criminal offenses related to choking or strangling another person, one of which is strangulation in the second degree. According to New York Penal Code § 121.12 you can be prosecuted for strangulation in the second degree 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, and as a result you cause that person to:

  1. Fall into a stupor,
  2. Lose consciousness, or
  3. Suffer a physical injury

In People v. Carte, 976 N.Y.S.2d 594 (2013), defendant Bryan Carte was accused of choking his girlfriend and shoved a piece of pizza into her face. His girlfriend suffered cuts, scratches, abrasions, and marks on her neck. Carter was charged with strangulation in second degree under New York Penal Code § 121.12. The court found that because the victim suffered neck injuries and experienced significant pain as a result of the strangulation the Carte's conviction was appropriate.

Related Offenses
  1. Criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation: New York Penal Law § 121.11
  2. Strangulation in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 121.13

In order to convict you of strangulation in the second degree the prosecutor must show that the victim lost consciousness or was somehow physically impaired as a result of your actions. If this did not happen, then the prosecutor will have a difficult time proving that you committed strangulation in the second degree.

The criminal code provides a statutory defense to a charge of strangulation in the second degree. Under New York Penal Code § 121.14 if your actions are pursuant to a valid medical or dental purpose, then you have a valid defense to such a charge.


Strangulation in the second degree is a class D felony. The maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison. Because strangulation in the second degree is also classified as a violent felony offense, the judge is required to impose a minimum sentence of 2 years in prison. You may also be required to pay a fine of up to $5,000 as well as up to $15,000 in restitution to the victim.

It is important to understand that strangulation in the second degree is classified as a family offense. Thus, if the strangulation occurred as part of a domestic violence incident your case may be subject to the special rules related to concurrent jurisdiction under Criminal Procedure Law § 140.10(4).

New York Penal Code § 121.12: Strangulation in the second degree

A person is guilty of strangulation in the second degree when he or she commits the crime of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, as defined in § 121.11 of this article, and thereby causes stupor, loss of consciousness for any period of time, or any other physical injury or impairment.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Being arrested for domestic violence based on strangulation is very serious. Not only are you likely to end up in prison for a number of years after you serve your prison term you will have a criminal record. As a result, many aspects of your life will be much more difficult. 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 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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