New York Penal Law § 121.11 - Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation
In New York, Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation occurs when someone intentionally impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by applying pressure to their throat or neck or by blocking their nose or mouth.The Elements of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation
Before a judge or jury can convict anyone of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation, the government must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation are:
- Blocking the nose or mouth of another person, or
- Applying pressure to another’s neck or throat, and
- Intending to impede the other person’s normal breathing or blood circulation.
Note that there is no legal requirement that the act caused actual injury or that the other person’s normal breathing or circulation was impaired.Examples of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation
The crime of Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation is fairly specific, and most examples are fairly obvious. And not surprisingly, this offense often comes up in the context of alleged domestic violence.Related Offenses
Often, prosecutors bring Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation charges along with one or more of the following:
- Strangulation in the Second Degree (NY Penal Law § 121.12)
- Strangulation in the First Degree (NY Penal Law § 121.13)
- Aggravated Strangulation (NY Penal Law § 121.13-A)
- Assault in the Third Degree (NY Penal Law § 120.00)
- Assault in the Second Degree (NY Penal Law § 120.05)
There are several defenses that can result in a not guilty verdict or being found guilty of a less serious offense. One of the most common defenses to Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation involves challenging the “intent” element of the crime. To prove you guilty, the government needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to obstruct another’s breathing. For example, if you covered another person’s mouth or nose to keep them from yelling, your intent wasn’t to impede their breathing.
As many of these cases arise in the domestic violence context, fabrication may also be a viable defense in certain situations. However, this is typically the case where the alleged victim does not have any physical injuries or bruising.
Additionally, under New York Penal Law § 121.14, it is an affirmative defense if the act forming the basis of the offense was performed for a valid medical or dental purpose.What Are the Penalties for Obstructing Another’s Breathing or Blood Circulation?
Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation is a class A misdemeanor. In New York, a class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail or up to three years of probation. Additionally, the court may impose a fine of up to $1,000.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation is the least serious of several other related offenses. For example, if your actions cause “stupor, loss of consciousness for any period of time, or any other physical injury or impairment,” the offense is considered Strangulation of the Second Degree, which is a class D felony. Similarly, if you caused serious physical injury to another by blocking their nose or mouth or choking them, you may be charged with Strangulation of the First Degree, which is a class C felony.Speak with an Experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Criminal Obstruction Charges Today
If you were recently arrested and charged with Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation or any other violent crime, reach out to Tilem & Associates, P.C. While these are very serious charges, you are presumed innocent and it’s the prosecution’s burden to prove you guilty—if they can. At our New York criminal defense law firm, we have more than 25 years of experience aggressively defending good people charged with serious crimes. We are immediately available to meet with you to get started working on a compelling defense to the charges you face. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 877-377-8666. You can also reach us through our online contact form.