New York Harassment Charges Explained

New York Harassment charges apply to situations in which a person engages in conduct or course of conduct with intent to to annoy or alarm another individual. There are five different New York Harassment charges codified in the New York Penal Law. Specifically, these charges are:

The difference in these charges is explained below.

New York Harassment in the Second Degree

Under New York Penal Law Section 240.26, a person is guilty of Harassment in the Second Degree when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he or she:

  1. Strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same; OR
  2. Follows a person in or about a public place or places; OR
  3. Engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person and which serve no legitimate purpose.

Exemptions from New York Harassment in the Second Degree

New York Penal Law Sections 240.26(2) and 240.26(3) do not apply to activities which are regulation by the National Labor Relations Act, the Railway Labor Act or the Federal Employment Labor Management Act. For example, the actions of employees organizing into unions or engaging in collective action, such as strikes do not constitute Harassment in the Second Degree under New York Law.

Penalties and Sentencing for Harassment in the Second Degree

Under New York Law, Harassment in the Second Degree is a Violation. This charge is punishable by up to 15 days in jail. Practically speaking, however, most New York violation charges will result in a “time served” sentence, which oftentimes is no jail time at all, or just the time spent in arrest processing. Harassment in the Second Degree is a violation, and not a crime. Therefore, if you plead guilty to this charge, you will not have a criminal record.

New York Harassment in the First Degree

A more serious New York Harassment charge is Harassment in the First Degree, which is codified in New York Penal Law Section 240.25. Under New York Penal Law 240.25, a person is guilty of Harassment in the First Degree when he or she:

  1. Intentionally and repeatedly harasses another person by following such person in or about a public place or places, OR
  2. By engaging in a course of conduct or by repeatedly committing acts which places such person in reasonable fear of physical injury.

Exemptions from New York Harassment in the First Degree

Similarly, activities regulated by the National Labor Relations Act, the Railway Labor Act, or the Federal Employment Labor Management Act are exempted from prosecution as Harassment in the First Degree charges.

Penalties and Sentencing for Harassment in the First Degree

New York Harassment in the First Degree is a Class “B” misdemeanor. As such, this charge can be punishable by:

  • Up to 90 days in prison,
  • Time served (even if time served was only time for arrest processing or awaiting arraignment),
  • Probation,
  • Conditional Discharge (with conditions set by the court, such as completion of community service, or an anger management program),
  • Unconditional Discharge (no conditions set by the court as part of the plea).

New York Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree

New York Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree charge is codified in New York Penal Law Section 240.30. Under Penal Law 240.30, a person is guilty of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree when:

  1. With intent to harass another person, the actor either:
    1. Communicates by phone, computer, mail or through other electronic means a threat to cause physical harm to a person, a member of such person’s family or household, or their property AND the actor knows or reasonably should know that such communication will cause such person to reasonably fear harm to the physical safety or property of self or another; OR
    2. Causes a communication to be initiated by telephone, computer, mail or any other electronic means, which is a threat to cause physical harm to a person, a member of such person’s family or household, or their property, AND the actor knows or reasonably should know that such communication will cause such person to reasonably fear harm to the physical safety or property of self or another; OR
  2. With intent to harass or threaten another person, he or she makes a telephone call, with no purpose of legitimate communication; OR
  3. With the intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise subjects another person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same because of a belief or perception regarding such person’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct; OR
  4. With the intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects another person to physical contact thereby causing physical injury to such person or to a family or household member of such person; OR
  5. He or she commits the crime of Harassment in the First Degree and has previously been convicted of the crime of Harassment in the First Degree (Penal Law Section 240.25) within the preceding 10 years.

Penalties and Sentencing for Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree

Under New York Law, Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree is a Class “A” Misdemeanor. As such, this charge is punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year in prison;
  • Probation;
  • Conditional Discharge;
  • Unconditional Discharge;
  • Time Served.

New York Aggravated Harassment in the First Degree

The most serious of New York harassment charges is Aggravated Harassment in the First Degree, which is codified in New York Penal Law Section 240.31. Under New York Penal Law Section 240.31, a person is guilty of Aggravated Harassment in the First Degree, when:

  1. With intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, because of a belief or perception regarding such person’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct,
  2. S/he damages premises primarily used for religious purposes, and the damage to the premises exceeds $50; OR
  3. Commits the crime of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree under Penal Law Section 240.30(3) AND has been previously convicted of the crime of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree under Penal Law Section 240.30(3) OR has been previously convicted of the crime of Aggravated Harassment in the First Degree within the preceding 10 years; OR
  4. Etches, paints, draws upon or otherwise places a swastika, on any building or other real property, public or private, without express permission of the owner or operator of such building or real property; OR
  5. Sets on fire a cross in public view; OR
  6. Etches, paints, draws upon or otherwise places or displays a noose, on any building or other real property, public or private, without express permission of the owner or operator of such building or real property.

Sentencing and Penalties for Aggravated Harassment in the First Degree

Aggravated Harassment in the First Degree is a Class “E” Non-violent Felony. As such, this charge is punishable by:

  • An indeterminate sentence up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison;
  • A determinate sentence of up to 1 year in prison;
  • A split sentence (up to 6 months jail, rest of sentence probation);
  • Probation;
  • Conditional Discharge;
  • Unconditional Discharge.

New York Aggravated Harassment of an Employee by an Inmate

An infrequently used New York harassment statute is Aggravated Harassment if an Employee by an Inmate. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law 240.32. Under New York Penal Law Section 240.32, an inmate is guilty of Aggravated Harassment of an Employee by an Inmate when:

  1. With intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm a person in a facility whom he or she knows or reasonably should know to be an employee of such facility or the board of parole or the office of mental health, or a probation department, bureau or unit or a police officer,
  2. S/he causes or attempts to cause such employee to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine, feces, or the contents of a toilet bowl, by throwing, tossing or expelling such fluid or material.

Definitions Used in Aggravated Harassment of an Employee by an Inmate

This charge has special legal definitions, which are described below:

  1. An “inmate” means an inmate or detainee in a correctional facility, local correctional facility or a hospital, as such term is defined in subdivision two of section four hundred of the correction law.
  2. A “facility” means a correctional facility or local correctional facility, hospital, as such term is defined in Section 400(2) of the Correction Law.

Sentencing and Penalties for Aggravated Harassment of an Employee by an Inmate

Under New York Law, Aggravated Harassment of an Employee by an Inmate is a Class “E” Non-violent Felony. As such, the possible potential sentences include:

  • An indeterminate sentence up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison;
  • A determinate sentence of up to 1 year in prison;
  • A split sentence (up to 6 months jail, rest of sentence probation);
  • Probation;
  • Conditional Discharge;
  • Unconditional Discharge.

Contact Top Rated New York Harassment Attorneys Today

If you or your loved one have been arrested and charged with New York criminal harassment charges, you need experienced counsel by your side. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.