What is New York Forcible Touching?

The New York Forcible Touching Charge, codified in New York Penal Law Section 130.52, involves subjecting another person to unwanted sexual contact. New York legislators made this conduct a crime in 2000. Prior to 2000, there was no criminal provision prohibiting this offense.

There are two different types of Forcible Touching in New York. First, is forcibly touching another person’s intimate parts without their consent (New York Penal Law Section 130.52(1)). Second, is subjecting another person to unwanted sexual contact on public transit (New York Penal Law Section 130.52(2)). Forcible touching takes place without a person’s consent when it results from any circumstances in which a person does not expressly or impliedly allows to the Defendant’s conduct.

The New York Forcible Touching charge differs from the other Sex Offenses codified in the New York Penal Law, i.e. sexual abuse. All other charges have age limitations, or restrictions on the nature of relationship between the defendant and the complaining witness. Because the New York Forcible Touching charge was passed by the legislation later than the other sex crime provisions in the New York Penal Law, there are no limitations on the New York Forcible Touching charge.

Forcible Touching of Another Person’s Intimate Parts

Under New York Penal Law Section 130.52(1), a person is guilty of Forcible Touching when such person:

  1. Intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose
  2. Forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person
  3. For the purpose of degrading or abusing such person, OR for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire. This subsection refers to the person’s mens rea, or the culpable mental state.

The Courts have held that any bodily contact involving some application of pressure, when done with the the required culpable mental state.

Hypothetical Example of Forcible Touching Case Involving Another Person’s Intimate Parts

Let’s say, for example, A and B are strangers. A grabs B’s buttocks while both are waiting in line at the grocery store. A’s conduct upsets and alarms B. A’s conduct would satisfy the elements of the criminal charge of New York Forcible Touching statute because:

  1. B’s conduct was intentional and for no legitimate purpose,
  2. B forcibly touched A’s intimate body part,
  3. B did not consent to A’s conduct, AND
  4. It can be inferred from A’s actions that A’s intent was either to degrade or abuse B or to gratify A’s sexual desire.

Real Case Examples of Conduct That The Courts Have Held Is New York Forcible Touching

  • Slapping women’s buttocks on the street was sufficient to support a charge of forcible touching (People v. Hatton, 26 N.Y.3d 364 (2015));
  • Rubbing of a groin area and an exposed penis against another individual’s buttocks is forcible touching under New York Law (People v. Guaman, 22 N.Y.3d 678 (2014))

Conduct That the Courts Have Determined Is Not Sufficient for the Charge of New York Forcible Touching

  • Putting hand up a female’s shirt is not sufficient for the New York charge of forcible touching, as mere touching without pressure is not Forcible Touching (People v. House, 992 N.Y.S.2d 630 (2014))
  • Light pat on the buttocks is not forcible touching within the meaning of New York Forcible Touching charge (People v. Nuruzzaman, 8 Misc. 3d 356 (2005))

What Is Considered To Be an Intimate Body Part?

New York Courts have consistently applied a broad definition of what is considered to be an intimate body part. The Courts have reasoned that the definition if what is considered to be an intimate body part, is much broader than the definition of what is a sexual body part for a New York Forcible Touching charge. Additionally, the courts look at the nature of the contact was to determine if the body part should be considered intimate.

For example, the following body parts are considered to be sexual or intimate body parts for the purpose of New York Forcible Touching Charges:

  • Interior Part of the Person’s Mouth (People v. Rivera, 138 Misc. 2d 570 (Bronx County 1988))
  • Neck
  • Navel (People v. Belfrom, 124 Misc. 2d 185 (Queens County 1984))

Forcible Touching By a Medical Provider

During medical examinations, sexual and intimate parts of a patient are frequently examined by a physician or another medical professional. When touching of sexual or intimate body parts is performed for a legitimate medical purpose, then such touching is not forcible touching within the meaning of New York Penal Law Section 130.52.

However, both federal and state prosecutors frequently charge medical professionals for alleged inappropriate touching during medical examinations. We have defended these types of cases and have obtained exceptional results.

Forcible Touching Investigations Against Medical Professionals

We have defended a number of Forcible Touching Cases involving a Physician or a Medical Provider, and know what the investigators, state and federal prosecutors look at to determine if the physician’s conduct falls within the medically acceptable norm, or if rises to level of criminal behavior under the New York Forcible Touching Charge.

Generally speaking, the investigators and the prosecutors look at the totality of circumstances to determine if the medical examination was proper and done for a legitimate medical purpose. The investigators also scrutinize if there is a pattern of behavior by a physician or a medical professional – meaning, is there more than one patient that is reporting a certain conduct if behavior. It is not uncommon for the investigators to obtain the names and contact information for all of the physician’s patients and reach out to them to find out if anything about the doctor’s conduct during the medical examination was strange, unusual, or outside the norm in the patient’s opinion.

Factors the Investigators Look at to Determine if the Conduct is Medically Necessary or a Crime

In investigations of medical professionals for forcible touching charges, the case agents try to figure out the following information:

Pattern of Behavior

Is there a pattern of behavior by the physician involving multiple patients, or is this an isolated incident?

Inappropriate or Sexual Remarks During the Medical Visit

Does the doctor say anything inappropriate or sexual during the examination? For example, asking to meet up with a patient for a drink after the examination; or commenting on the patient’s anatomy.

Disrobing Patient for Longer Than Necessary

Does the doctor keep the patient undressed for longer than necessary? Is the patient provided with a medical gown? Is the patient disrobed only as necessary for the physical examination?

Chaperone Present or Right to Chaperone Explained

Is there a chaperone in the room, or is the patient explained that s/he has a right to have a chaperone present in the room during a sensitive examination?

All Exams Performed Are Medically Necessary

Are all the examinations performed medically necessary? For example, performing a genital exam when the patient came in with a complaint about knee pain.

Examination Prolonged or Sexual in Nature

Is the examination prolonged in duration, or in any way sexual in nature? For example, if a rectal exam takes under a minute to complete, the doctor should not be conducting a rectal exam that lasts for 10 minutes without a valid medical reason.

Information Missing from the Medical Records

Do the patient’s medical records describe all the examinations or procedures done by the medical professional? Are certain examinations intentionally excluded by the medical provider from the medical records?

High Profile Cases Involving Forcible Touching by a Medical Provider

A very prominent New York Forcible Touching case is the case against Dr. Robert Hadden brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for sexually abusing female patients during gynecological and obstetric examinations. In September 2020, federal prosecutors filed a multiple count indictment against Dr. Hadden in the Southern District of New York for enticing and inducing women, including one minor, to travel to his New York office from out of state to engage in illegal sex acts.

Top Rated Defense Attorneys for Medical Professionals Accused of Forcible Touching

If you are a medical professional accused of New York forcible touching by a patient, you need a top rated and experienced Criminal Defense Attorney by your side. Investigations involving allegations of forcible touching against a medical professional are usually drawn out and very taxing on the accused.

Your medical license and reputation are on the line, not to mention the possibility of a criminal record, jail time and Sex Offender Registration, if the patient was under 18 years old. You need someone with experience defending these criminal cases and dealing with Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) to protect your license that you’ve worked so hard to obtain. Contact us today to discuss your case confidentially.

Subjecting Another Person to Unwanted Sexual Contact

Under New York Penal Law Section 130.52(2), a person is guilty of forcible touching when such person:

  1. Intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose
  2. Subjects another person to sexual contact
  3. For the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire AND
  4. With intent to degrade or abuse such other person
  5. While such other person is a passenger on a bus, train, or subway car operated by any transit agency, authority or company, public or private, whose operation is authorized by New York state or any of its political subdivisions.

For the New York Forcible Touching Charged under Penal Law Section 130.52, forcible touching also includes squeezing, grabbing or pinching.

So if you accidentally bump into someone on the subway and brush up against their sexual or intimate body parts, that is not a crime within the meaning of the New York Forcible Touching Charge. That is not a crime for several reasons:

  1. Your conduct was not intentional, meaning you weren’t trying to brush up against another person’s sexual or intimate body parts; AND
  2. Your intent wasn’t to gratify your own sexual desires or degrade or abuse another person.

What Are the Penalties and Sentencing for New York Forcible Touching Charges?

Forcible Touching is a Class A Misdemeanor. As such, this charge can be punishable by up to 1 year in prison. In the alternative, a sentence of probation can be imposed. The duration of probation on a Forcible Touching charge is 6 years. Furthermore, New York Forcible Touching charges can be subject to Sex Offender Registration under SORA. However, SORA only applies to New York Forcible Touching charges when the victim is less than 18 years old.

Contact a Top Rated New York Sex Crimes Attorney Today

If you or a your loved one have ben charged with Forcible Touching or any other New York Sex Crime, you need effective legal representation. Forcible Touching charges can give you a permanent criminal record, result in jail time and cause significant damage to your reputation and well being. Please call us at 212-729-9494 or contact us today for your free initial consultation.