New York Penal Law Section 240.30: Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree
Generally, people have an understanding of what the word "harassment" means in everyday language, but in the New York Penal Law it has a specific connotation. It goes beyond just a minor bother to another person, the actor must intend to cause some sort of real reaction.
The most common charges under this statute relate to phone calls. A person is guilty of this crime if they initiate any form of communication with the intent to harass or threaten another person. This communication does not necessarily need to be over the phone, it is just the most common way for people to communicate their threats or vent their anger. A person can still be charged under this section if the communication is made via email, text, letter, or direct social media message. The method of communication is irrelevant, it is the content that will be the foundation of the charges.
Alternatively, a person can be charged under this statute if they make a telephone call with the intent to harass or threaten another person, and with no purpose of legitimate conversation. An example of this would be calling up a person just to voice a string of expletives and/or threaten some sort of violence and hang up. Even if these phone calls are made in the heat of the moment and the person has no real intention of ever committing any of the acts threatened, the person can be found guilty under the statute just for making the call.
Because of the personal nature of the offense, Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree is an offense that frequently occurs between people who are familiar or acquainted, most often occurring between spouses or dating partners. Also, it is frequently not the only offense charged as the result of some domestic incident. Usually, there are accompanying charges of menacing, assault, stalking, or disorderly conduct, all of which increase the severity of the situation.
This crime is a class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail if convicted, the same level offense as assault in the third degree or driving while intoxicated. Even though a person may think that one ill-conceived phone call is not a big deal, it can have significant repercussions on a person's life and employment and needs to be taken seriously.
If a domestic incident leads to an arrest, having an attorney who knows how to navigate both the legal and personal aspects of a case is paramount, and dealing with both at the same time usually leads to the best outcome. The experienced New York domestic violence attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have handled countless cases arising from domestic disputes and have a proven track record in dealing with harassment and related charges. Call our office at (212) 581-1001 for a free case consultation.