New York Stalking Defense Lawyer
Stalking is a serious crime prohibited by New York’s Penal Code §§ 120.45 to 120.60. Stalking involves the unwanted pursuit of another person, either following them or attempting to communicate repeatedly in such a way as to make the person feel threatened. Even stalking at the lowest degree can lead to jail time and significant fines. At its most serious, stalking is a violent felony that can land a defendant in prison for up to seven years.
Stalking can take the form of repeatedly showing up at someone’s home or work, sending unwanted messages via phone, email, or social media, vandalizing someone’s property, making harassing phone calls, or following someone in a menacing manner.
If you have been arrested for stalking in Orange County, a New York criminal defense attorney at Dupée & Monroe in Goshen can help you put together the strongest defense available in order to mitigate your charges or have them dropped entirely.
Elements of Stalking
There are four different degrees of stalking. The severity of the charged crime depends on the specific conduct of the defendant, the nature of the defendant and their criminal history, as well as the nature of the alleged victim.
The base-level crime of stalking is known as stalking in the fourth degree. Fourth-degree stalking requires that the defendant engaged in conduct intentionally and with no legitimate purpose that they reasonably knew would cause the victim to reasonably fear physical, mental, professional, or financial harm to themselves or their family.
Stalking is enhanced to the third degree when the defendant committed stalking and was either:
- Stalking multiple people;
- Previously convicted of certain crimes within the past ten years, including stalking; or
- Acting to induce fear of serious physical injury, death, kidnapping, or a sex offense.
Stalking is enhanced to the second degree when the defendant:
- Uses a dangerous weapon in the act of stalking;
- Has a qualifying prior conviction from the past five years; or
- Is over 21 years old and stalks a person under age 14.
Stalking is enhanced to the first degree when the defendant commits stalking in the third or second degrees and:
- Actually injures the victim; or
- Commits certain other class A misdemeanors or class E felonies in the process.
Punishment for Stalking
The penalties for stalking vary, depending on the severity of the charged conduct. The punishments for the various degrees of stalking are as follows:
- Fourth degree. Stalking in the fourth degree is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months in jail or one year of probation.
- Third degree. Stalking in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or three years of probation.
- Second degree. Stalking in the second degree is a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.
- First degree. Stalking in the first degree is a class D felony, punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment.
Defending Against Stalking Charges
Stalking was infrequently charged in New York until the state’s aggravated harassment laws were ruled unconstitutional. Now, police and prosecutors will charge defendants with stalking rather than harassment, even though the behavior is the same. Your criminal defense attorney can help you understand your specific charges after a New York stalking arrest and help ascertain whether the crime is really a trumped-up version of harassment.
Your attorney can help you poke holes in any specific element charged in order to reduce the severity of the charge or get the charges dropped entirely. Whether the victim was actually subjected to fear of physical injury, for example, can be a difficult element to establish where there is no proof other than the word of the parties involved. Often the key to a successful defense consists of convincing the prosecutor to drop the charges that enhance the crime to a felony or serious misdemeanor.
Help is Available for Your New York Stalking Arrest
The lawyers at Dupée & Monroe have decades of experience helping people like you build the strongest defense possible against stalking charges. If you have been arrested for stalking or other offenses in Goshen, Orange County or anywhere in the Hudson Valley region, contact Dupée & Monroe, P.C., for immediate assistance from experienced New York criminal defense attorneys.