Harassment in the Second Degree: Not Quite an Assault and Definitely Not a Crime in NY

Any NY criminal defense attorney who has “been around the block” even just one time should be able to advise you that one of the key components to Assault in the 3rd Degree, unlike Harassment in the Second Degree, is that you inflict or cause a physical injury to another person. Well, what happens if you strike or hit someone and you don’t bust their lip, give them a black eye or, or cause any pain at all? Guess what…your weakness or their toughness could be a blessing to you!

While you can certainly be charged with Attempted Assault, a “B” misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days jail, there is another offense lingering out there in the New York Penal Law. That offense is Harassment in the Second Degree. According to NY Penal Law 240.26:

A person is guilty of Harassment in the Second Degree when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person:

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

Although there are numerous different elements than Assault, one of the most glaring differences is that Harassment in the Second Degree does not require that you cause any physical injury, substantial or otherwise, to the victim. Having established, in general, how the crimes are different, the best part is…if you strike someone and don’t cause any injury (go wimps!) you may be charged with Harassment, merely a violation and not a crime. That is right. Harassment is a violation and not a crime. Although it is punishable by up to fifteen days jail (that doesn’t mean you will get it), no matter what your sentence, you will not get a criminal record as a result. Therefore, a plea to Harassment in the Second Degree will not be an offense where you will ever have to say to an employer, friend or family member that you have been convicted of a crime.

Although Harassment in the Second Degree is not a crime, that does not mean that you should roll over and accept a plea to this offense. Maybe it is an appropriate disposition and maybe it is not, but either way, a full legal analysis and an aggressive criminal defense must be implemented before accepting any deal. The criminal defense attorneys at Saland Law PC stand ready to do just that and whatever else it take to legally protect your liberty, integrity and rights.

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