Stalking in the Fourth Degree: PC 120.45
Stalking in the fourth degree is the base-level crime of stalking. Although punishable as a misdemeanor, stalking is still a serious crime that can lead to jail time and other severe consequences. If you are accused of stalking any person–be they a former romantic partner, a co-worker, or a complete stranger–it’s important to get a seasoned defense team on your side as soon as possible. Read on to learn about stalking in the fourth degree under the New York Penal Code, and call a zealous New York criminal defense attorney for advice and representation if you’ve been arrested or accused of stalking, harassment, or other crimes.
Definition and Elements of Fourth-Degree Stalking
The crime of stalking in the fourth degree is covered by PC 120.45. Per the penal code, a person is guilty of stalking when they engage in a deliberate course of conduct directed at another person, for no legitimate purpose, and they know or should know that that course of conduct:
- Is likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the safety, health, or property of that person, or of that person’s friends or immediate family; OR
- Causes material harm to the mental or emotional health of that person, the conduct involves repeatedly following, calling, or otherwise contacting that person or their friends or immediate family, and the defendant was asked to stop such conduct; OR
- Is likely to cause the person to fear for their career, business, or employment, because the defendant has called, appeared at, or otherwise contacted the person’s place of business after being asked to stop.
Examples of conduct that could give rise to talking charges include:
- Harassing or threatening phone calls, voicemails, emails, or text messages
- Showing up at a person’s home or place of work and acting in a menacing or threatening manner
- Repeatedly showing up around a person, whether at work, home, or elsewhere, after being asked to stop
- Threatening harm to a person, their property, or their friends and family
- Repeatedly calling a person’s boss or showing up to their place of work in an attempt to get them in trouble at work
A defendant can be charged with stalking for committing any of these acts if they are committed for no “legitimate purpose” and the defendant knows or should know that the conduct would reasonably make the target afraid for themselves, their friends or family, their property, or their career. A defendant can be charged for stalking an alleged target whether they are former romantic partners, coworkers, friends, or even strangers.
Penalties for Fourth-Degree Stalking
Stalking in the fourth degree is punishable as a class B misdemeanor. Upon conviction for fourth-degree stalking, a defendant can face up to 90 days in county jail, as well as fines, probation, orders of protection, and community service. Jail time is not mandatory for a first-time stalking conviction, and a court may seek an alternative course of rehabilitation such as drug or alcohol counseling, probation, and protective orders.
A criminal conviction can carry other consequences. Having a criminal record can affect your credit score, your ability to get a loan or rent an apartment, your immigration status, your child custody rights, your ability to get a job or apply for a professional license, and other matters. Even a misdemeanor conviction can follow you for years and adversely affect your life.
Call for Seasoned Legal Help Fighting Your New York Stalking Arrest
If you have been arrested for stalking, harassment, or other criminal offenses in New York, call Dupée & Monroe, P.C., to get help from a dedicated criminal defense lawyer. From our offices in Goshen, we represent clients charged with all manner of criminal offenses in Orange County and throughout the Hudson Valley.