New York Coercion is a criminal charge that involves threats to get the victim to engage in or abstain from a certain course of action. Coercion is similar to blackmail and extortion, but rather than obtaining money or something of value, coercion impacts the course of action the victim is otherwise legally permitted to take or abstain from.

Is New York Coercion Illegal?

Yes, under New York state criminal law, coercion is a crime. There are three sections in the New York Penal Law that apply to coercion. Specifically, they are:

What is New York Coercion in the Third Degree?

New York Coercion in the Third Degree is the least serious of all coercion charges. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law Section 135.60. Under this statute, a person is guilty of Coercion in the Third Degree when s/he:

  1. Compels, another person to:
  • join a group, organization or criminal enterprise
  • produce, disseminate or otherwise display an image or images depicting nudity or such person engaging in sexual conduct.

2. By threatening or instilling fear if the demands are not complied with, the actor or a third person will:

  • Cause physical injury to a person;
  • Cause damage to property;
  • Engage in other conduct constituting a crime;
  • Accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be
  • instituted against him or her;
  • Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule;
  • Cause a strike, boycott or other collective labor group action injurious to some person’s business; except that such a threat shall not be deemed coercive when the act or omission compelled is for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
  • Use or abuse his or her position as a public servant by performing some act within or related to his or her official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such manner as to affect some person adversely;
  • Perform any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm another person materially with respect to his or her health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships; OR
  • Report his or her immigration status or suspected immigration status.

Sentencing and Penalties for New York Coercion in the Third Degree

Under New York Law, Coercion in the Third Degree is a Class “A” Misdemeanor. As such, this charge is punishable by up to one year in jail. Possible other sentences include a conditional discharge, probation, a “split” sentence (portion of the time spent in jail with the remainder served out on probation), or a sentence of incarceration of less than one year in jail. Additionally, a fine up to $1,000 can be imposed.

What is New York Coercion in the Second Degree?

New York Coercion in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Law Section 135.61. Under this statute, a person is guilty of Coercion in the Second Degree when s/he:

  1. Commits the crime of New York Coercion in the Third Degree, AND
  2. Thereby compels or induces a person to engage in sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct.

Sentencing and Penalties for New York Coercion in the Second Degree

Coercion in the Second Degree is a Class “E” non-violent felony. As such, this charge is punishable by up to 4 years in prison. Additionally, this charge can be resolved with a non-jail resolution such as a conditional discharge or probation. A split sentence (up to 6 months jail, rest of the time on probation) is also a legal sentence for this charge.

What is New York Coercion in the First Degree?

New York Coercion in the First Degree is the most serious of all coercion charges. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law § 135.65. Under this statute, a person is guilty of Coercion in the First Degree when:

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

  1. 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:
  • Commit or attempt to commit a felony;  OR
  • Cause or attempt to cause physical injury to a person;  OR
  • Violate his or her duty as a public servant.

Sentencing and Penalties for New York Coercion in the First Degree

Under New York Law, First-degree Coercion is a Class “D” Non-violent felony punishable by a sentence of at least 3 to 7 years in prison. Additionally, this charge can be punishable by a fine of a up to $5,000 or double the criminal proceeds.

What is the Difference Between New York Coercion and New York Extortion?

New York Extortion (commonly called “blackmail“) and New York Coercion are both crimes under the state penal law. Both of these criminal charges involve the manipulation of someone’s conduct for their benefit. The difference between these two is the purpose behind the actions.

The purpose of the coercion is to control or manipulate the actions of another individual. On the other hand, the purpose of extortion is to obtain property, or otherwise financially benefit at another’s expense. Charges of coercion and extortion allege that a defendant used the threat of force or property damage to compel another to do something that they would not otherwise have done.

What are Examples of Cases Prosecuted as Coercion under New York Law?

  • One example of Coercion would be the threatened release of a sex tape previously made consensually unless the person continued to engage in sexual intercourse with the coercer
  • Another example would be the coercer threatening to spread a rumor about you, unless you engaged in a specific course of conduct.

What are Some Possible Defenses for New York Coercion Charges?

Each case is different and requires its own in-depth development of a defense strategy. There is, however a statutory defense to New York Coercion charges that is codified in New York Penal Law Section 135.75. This affirmative defense is only applicable in a very limited set of circumstances.

Specifically, it provides that it is an affirmative defense to New York coercion charges if:

  • The coerced conduct is a threatened criminal charge, AND
  • The defendant reasonably believed the threatened charge to be true, AND
  • That his sole purpose was to compel or induce the victim to take reasonable action
  • To make good the wrong which was the subject of such threatened charge.

Additional defenses to New York Coercion charges may be attacking the proof that the police or the prosecutor have on you and holding them to their burden of beyond a reasonable doubt for each and every element of the crime. That involves assessing how strong the evidence is against you. Questions that may be useful in attacking the strength of the Government’s case include:

  • Is there any evidence besides the complainant’s words that you’ve conveyed a threat?
  • Was the conversation recorded?
  • Are there text messages, voicemails, emails containing the threats?
  • Are there any other witnesses who can corroborate the complainant’s story?

Contact Top Rated New York Coercion Defense Attorneys

If you or your loved one have had New York coercion charges filed against them, you need experienced top rated criminal defense attorneys. Contact us today for your free initial consultation.