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NY Penal Law § 135.65: Coercion in the first degree

Coercion is a criminal offense that involves one person forcing another person to do, or to refrain from doing something against that person's will. Coercion usually involves some sort of threat such as the threat of physical violence, damage to property or exposing a secret. According to New York Penal Law § 135.65 you could be prosecuted for the crime of coercion in the first degree if you try to force someone to do something by threatening to:

  1. Cause physical injury
  2. Cause damage to property

Or you by the use of threats you compel someone to:

  1. Commit a felony,
  2. Cause physical injury to another person, or
  3. Violate his or her duty as a public servant.

Diane is a recovering drug addict who recently relapsed. She was also in the process of trying to retain custody of her young daughter. Ken, Diane's drug dealer, knew that Diane had relapsed. Ken asked Diane to help him sell drugs. Diane refused. Ken told Diane that if she did not he would tell Diane's ex-husband that Diane was doing drugs again and as result, Diane would not retain custody of her daughter. Ken could be convicted of coercion in the first degree since he was attempting to compel Diane to commit a crime by threatening to disclose that Diane is again using drugs.

Related Offenses
  1. Coercion in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 135.60
  2. Bribery in the third degree: New York Penal Law § 200.00
  3. Bribery in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 200.03
  4. Bribery in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 200.04

If you face a charge of coercion in the first degree based on someone suffering a physical injury, the prosecutor will have to prove that you physically injured someone or that you induced someone to physically injure another person. The type of injury that person suffered must be a physical injury as defined in the criminal statute. In other words, the injury must be more than a minor bruise that disappears after a couple of days. If you have been charged with coercion based on having forced someone to commit a felony, a possible defense is that the person who committed the felony did so of his or her own free will and that you did not force or induce that person to commit that crime.


Because coercion in the first degree is a class D felony the maximum sentence is 7 years in prison. Whether or not you are sent to prison and the length of time you must spend in prison depends largely on your prior criminal record. If you have no prior felony convictions within the previous 10 years it is possible for the judge to not sentence you to any prison time at all. Your sentence may be a probation term of 5 years. If you do have at least one prior felony conviction within the last 10 years the judge will sentence you to at least 2-4 years in prison.

New York Penal Law § 135.65: Coercion in the first degree

A person is guilty of coercion in the first degree when he or she commits the crime of coercion in the second degree, and when:

  1. He or she commits such crime by instilling in the victim a fear that he or she will cause physical injury to a person or cause damage to property; or
  2. He or she thereby compels or induces the victim to:
    1. Commit or attempt to commit a felony; or
    2. Cause or attempt to cause physical injury to a person; or
    3. Violate his or her duty as a public servant.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Being arrested for coercion in the first degree is serious. If you are convicted many aspects of your life may change forever. However, there may be defenses to such a charge that only an experienced practitioner will understand. Thus, if you have been arrested coercion in the first degree it is important to immediately contact someone who understands the New York criminal 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 kidnapping, assault, stalking, and other serious crimes. 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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