Stalking In the Third Degree: New York Penal Law § 120.50

Similar to Stalking in the Fourth Degree, commission of this offense requires that a person engage in a course of conduct which negatively affects another person. There are two ways a person can be convicted under this statute: the first is under the "bump-up rule" where a person actually commits a lesser degree of Stalking, but because of their past actions the offense is bumped-up to the more serious charge. The second way is to intentionally engage in a course of conduct which is likely to cause a person to fear physical injury, abduction, or the commission of a sex offense.

The Bump-Up Rule

If a person has been convicted of Stalking in the Fourth Degree within the previous ten years, and commits the crime of Stalking in the Fourth Degree again, the prosecutor can bump up those charges to Stalking in the Third Degree. Alternatively, there are other "predicate offenses" which, if the person has been convicted of in the past ten years, would also result in a bump up to the more serious Stalking in the Fourth Degree. These predicate crimes are all offenses against other people, examples include: assault, menacing, harassment, criminal mischief, and criminal contempt.

It is important to note that since the Bump-Up charges result from the actual commission of acts that would constitute Stalking in the Fourth Degree, the person does not need to intend to cause a specific harm to be convicted; the prosecution just needs to prove the charged acts were committed intentionally.

Intentionally Engaging In Conduct Likely To Cause Fear

If an individual's repeated actions are likely to cause another to reasonably fear physical harm, a conviction can be had pursuant to this statute. For this offense, the fear must go beyond negative employment-related action or damage to mental health; there must be a reasonable fear of actual physical injury generated through the offender's course of conduct.

Stalking in the Third Degree frequently is charged following domestic incidents wherein one party continually contacts another after being told to cease all contact. And because of the threatening nature of this Stalking offense, it is often charged with multiple counts of Menacing and Harassment, separate charges for each incident involved in the course of conduct.

Stalking in the Third Degree is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Beyond potential jail time, a Stalking conviction can have devastating effects on a person's life, from schooling to employment. But while society can have sympathy and understanding for certain crimes as being lapses in judgment (drug offenses, DWI, etc.), individuals with a Stalking conviction tend to have a negative stigma attached to them which is difficult to overcome.

New York prosecutors are especially sensitive to domestic violence cases, including those charged with Stalking. This added attention frequently results in tougher negotiations on bail arguments and plea bargaining, highlighting the need for representation by an attorney who has a history of success in state criminal cases arising from domestic disputes. The domestic violence attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman are experts in the law concerning stalking as well as other charges that can arise from domestic incidents. Call us today at (212) 581-1001 for a free case evaluation.