Menacing in the Third Degree: New York Penal Law § 120.15

Menacing in the Third Degree is, essentially, physically threatening another person so that the individual is placed in fear of physical injury. Physical injury is described by the New York Penal Law as impairment of physical condition or substantial pain. Menacing, by itself, cannot cause physical injury - that charge would be assault. Menacing, rather, is the act of causing another to fear that you are about to assault them.

Charging this offense requires more than just verbal threats, some sort of physical action needs to be the cause of the fear. And the complainant needs to be aware of the threat. If it is done behind the complainant's back, or otherwise out of view, and the complainant does not know about it, there is no crime. Additionally, in a domestic dispute, one party merely being physically larger than the other, by itself, is insufficient to justify an arrest for Menacing. There must be a definite action that is alleged to have taken place where some sort of physical action put the complainant in reasonable fear.

This offense is rarely charged by itself, commonly it will be added onto charges of Assault, Harassment and/or Criminal Contempt. Further, Menacing is charged in the context of domestic violence, as escalating arguments can turn into physical threats in the heat of the moment.

As a class B Misdemeanor, Menacing in the Third Degree is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, and will also result in the issuance of a judicial Order of Protection, which will require refraining from all communication and any contact with the complainant or else face re-arrest and new charges.

Arguments at home, at work, or at social events can escalate quickly and without intent by either party involved. Once this happens, in the heat of moment, a person's actions may put a person in fear of being assaulted regardless of whether the actor intended to actually to strike a blow, leading to an arrest for Menacing in the Third Degree.

If you have been arrested for Menacing, you need to be represented by an attorney who will thoroughly investigate the incident and the complainant to discover both the facts about what happened, and any potential reasons the complainant may have to fabricate details about the incident. These types of cases often turn on what people say happened, rather than physical evidence. Exposing bias or reasons that a complainant may be lying may be the difference between a criminal conviction and a dismissal of the charges. As a criminal conviction may have a tremendous, negative impact on one's career - or even liberty - it is important to hire the best criminal lawyer you can.

The domestic violence attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have a proven track record of success investigating and litigating Menacing cases, as well as other charges that can arise from domestic incidents. Call us today at (212) 581-1001 for a free case evaluation.