Defending New York Menacing Charges

New York Menacing Charges involve placing another person in fear of physical injury. Unlike Assault charges, there is no requirement that physical injury occurs as a result menacing. Menacing is also different from reckless endangerment charges, in that only subjective fear of injury is required, rather than objective actual risk of physical injury. However, the complainant’s subjective fear must be reasonable, and not

There are four different New York Menacing Charges are:

New York Menacing in the Third Degree (PL 120.15)

Under New York Penal Law Section 120.15, a person is guilty of Menacing in the Third Degree when:

  1. By physical menace,
  2. He or she intentionally places or attempts to place another person
  3. In fear of death, imminent serious physical injury or physical injury.

Fear of Physical Injury Explained

For menacing charges under New York, the fear must be of imminent physical injury. Imminent is defined as “near at hand, at the point of happening, not remote, uncertain or contingent.” See People v. Vazquez, 136 Misc. 2d 1057 (N.Y. Crim. Ct. 1987).

Additionally, the prosecutor is required to prove that it was the Defendant’s conscious objective to place the complaining witness in dear of imminent physical injury. However, there is no legal requirement to prove a specific way in which someone was placed in fear of imminent physical injury.

Example of Menacing in the Third Degree

An example of conduct that would fall under New York Menacing charge would be chasing another individual around an apartment, while screaming that you plan on punching them. This conduct would be considered Menacing in the Third Degree under New York Law because it satisfies the three elements of the charge.

  • First, by chasing another person, you are physically menacing them.
  • Your conduct is intentional, in the fact that you are trying to achieve a certain result.
  • By threatening the other person with the fact that you would like to punch them, you are putting them in fear of imminent physical injury.

Penalties and Sentencing for New York Menacing in the Third Degree Charges

Menacing in the Third Degree is a Class B Misdemeanor. As such, this charge is punishable by up to 90 days in prison, or 1 year probation. Practically speaking, however Class B Misdemeanor charges frequently result in time served, or conditional discharge sentences.

On Menacing Charges, you may have to complete an anger management program or do some community service. Additionally, an order of protection may be issued to the complaining witness as part of your plea.

New York Menacing in the Second Degree (PL 120.14)

New York Menacing in the Second Degree was passed in 1992 and bumps up the New York Menacing in the Third Degree to a higher level crime (Class “A” Misdemeanor) when a weapon was used. This higher level menacing charge was a result of a Kings County case called People v. Madehere, 149 Misc. 2d 564 (1991), in which the prosecutor was only able to charge a Class “B” Misdemeanor for shooting at someone’s house, because no higher level charges were available.

Elements of New York Menacing in the Second Degree

Under New York Penal Law Section 120.14, a person is guilty of Menacing in the Second Degree when he or she:

1. Intentionally places or attempts to place another person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a weapon, OR

2. Repeatedly follows a person or engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts over a period of time intentionally placing or attempting to place another person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death;  OR

3. Commits the crime of Menacing in the Third Degree in violation of an order of protection, which directed the respondent or defendant to stay away from the person(s) on whose behalf the order was issued.

What is the Definition of a Dangerous Weapon for New York Penal Law Menacing in the Second Degree Charges?

New York Menacing in the Second Degree requires that the weapon displayed be a “deadly weapon, dangerous instrument or what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm.” Under New York Law, deadly weapons include certain knives, billy clubs, black jacks and metal knuckles and any other instrument from which a shot capable of producing serious physical injury can be discharged.

Additionally, Courts have held that dogs qualify as dangerous instruments for the purposes of Menacing in the Second Degree. Once again, the surrounding circumstances must be taken into consideration in determining if there is intent to place someone in fear of physical injury. For example, simply taking your dog out for a walk would not qualify as menacing conduct. However, telling your large and scary German Shepherd to attack someone will likely place another individual in reasonable fear of imminent physical injury.

Weapons Capable of Shooting Projectiles Must Be Operable and Loaded

However, under Penal Law Section 10.00(12), weapons from which a shot can be fired (i.e. guns) must be operable and loaded.

Example Of Menacing in The Second Degree

Menacing in the Second Degree is very similar to the charge of Menacing in the Third Degree, with one additional element, which is the presence of a weapon. An example of conduct that would fall under New York Menacing in the Second Degree charge would be chasing another individual around an apartment with knife in hand, while screaming that you plan on hurting them them. This conduct would be considered Menacing in the Second Degree under New York Law because it satisfies all the elements of the charge.

  • First, you displayed a weapon i.e. knife.
  • Second, by chasing another person with knife in hand, while screaming that you want to hurt them, you place the other person in reasonable fear of physical injury.
  • Third, your conduct is intentional, rather than negligent or reckless.

Penalties and Sentencing for New York Menacing in the Second Degree Charges

Menacing in the Second Degree is a Class A Misdemeanor. As such, this particular charge is punishable by up to 1 year in prison, or up to 3 years probation. In practice, Class A Misdemeanor charges typically resolve themselves without any jail time.

For example, with a sentence of time served (even if it’s just one day), or a conditional discharge with some community service or an anger management program. Frequently, the prosecutor will ask for a an Order of Protection for the Complaining Witness on New York Menacing Charges as part of your plea deal.

Frequently, New York Menacing in the Second Degree charges get pleaded down to New York Menacing in the Third Degree Charges, because New York Menacing in the Third Degree is a lesser included offense of Menacing in the Third Degree. Meaning, if you have committed Menacing in the Second Degree, then you necessarily have committed Menacing in the Third Degree. Because the two have identical charges, but New York Menacing in the Second Degree has additional elements that are not included in the New York Menacing in the Third Degree Charge.

New York Menacing in the First Degree (PL 120.13)


Menacing in the First Degree is one of the more serious of all menacing charges, and is a felony. Under New York Penal Law Section 120.13, a person is guilty of Menacing in the First Degree when he or she:

  1. Commits the crime of Menacing in the Second Degree, AND
  2. Has been previously convicted of the crime of Menacing in the Second Degree or the crime of menacing a police officer or peace officer within the preceding 10 years.

Example of New York Menacing in the First Degree

An example of facts that can be charged as Menacing in the First Degree in New York, is the same example as the one in above for Menacing in the Second Degree, however with the presence of a prior conviction for Menacing in the Second Degree within 10 years.

Specifically, chasing a person around the apartment with knife in hand, while screaming that you plan on hurting them them AND having a prior conviction for either Menacing in the Second Degree or Menacing a Police Officer or Peace Officer in the past 10 years. This conduct could be criminally charged as Menacing in the First Degree under New York Law, as the conduct satisfies all elements of that charge.

Penalties and Sentencing for New York Menacing in the First Degree Charges

Menacing in the First Degree is a Class E Felony. This charge is punishable by up to 4 years in prison, or 5 years probation. Anger Management Programs or another treatment option may be required by the prosecutor as part of a probational sentence.

Menacing a Police Officer or a Peace Officer (PL 120.18)

New York Penal Law has a separate charge for Menacing a Police Officer or a Peace Officer. The elements of this New York Menacing Charge are:

  1. Intentionally placing or attempting to place a police officer or peace officer in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death,
  2. By displaying a deadly weapon, knife, pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm, whether operable or not, AND
  3. 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.

Sentencing and Penalties for Menacing a Police Officer or a Peace Officer

Menacing a Police Officer or Peace Officer is a Class D Violent Felony. As such, this New York Menacing Charge is punishable by 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison. However, if there are mitigating circumstances either about the defendant or the nature and circumstances of the offense, this charge can be punishable by probation.

Menacing a Police Officer or a Peace Officer Practice Pointer

District Attorneys Offices charge Menacing of a Police Officer or a Peace Officer in very limited circumstances. That is because the Assault of a Police Officer or a Peace Officer is frequently charged with this New York Menacing Charge.

Example of New York Menacing a Police Officer or a Peace Officer Charge

The following is an example of the New York Menacing a Police Officer or a Peace Officer Charge:

  • An individual approaches you on the street and asks to purchase a quantity of narcotics from you. You recognize her as an undercover officer, because last week your friend was arrested right after selling marihuana to her. You refuse to sell narcotics to the undercover. Instead you display a knife, and threaten to stab her.
  • Menacing a police officer is the appropriate charge here, because these facts would not support an assault charge. However, there must be proof that you knew or should have known that the individual was an undercover officer. This can be established by what you say, or figuring out that you were present during your friend’s arrest for selling marihuana to the same person last week.

Penalties and Sentencing of New York Menacing a Police Officer or a Peace Officer Charge

Under New York Law, Menacing a Police Officer or a Peace Officer is a Class D Violent Felony. As such, this New York Menacing Charge is punishable by up to 2 to 7 years in prison.

Crimes Commonly Charged with New York Menacing Charges

Frequently, the crime of New York Menacing is charged with these crimes:

Contact Top Rated New York Menacing Charges Attorney Today

If you have been arrested and charged with New York Menacing Charges, you need top rated New York Criminal Defense Attorneys by your side. These charges can lead to a permanent criminal record, jail time or probationary sentences. You need to find the right attorney to fight your Menacing case for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation regarding your case.