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New York Penal Law § 240.25 – Harassment in the First Degree

Dedicated New York Criminal Defense Lawyers Helping Clients Avoid the Potentially Life-Changing Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

Harassment in the First Degree is a crime prohibiting anyone from following another person in public or engaging in any course of action that reasonably causes the other person to fear that they will be injured. In New York this is a type of stalking charge. Harassment in the 1st Degree is a class B misdemeanor. However, prosecutors often bring charges of Harassment in the First Degree along with other, potentially more serious, criminal harassment offenses, such as aggravated harassment or stalking.

The Elements of Harassment in the First Degree

Before a judge or jury can convict anyone of Harassment in the First Degree, the government must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of Harassment in the First Degree are:

  1. The defendant repeatedly engaged in actions that harassed another person, putting the other person in fear of bodily injury; and
  2. The defendant intentionally carried out his or her actions for the purpose of harassing the alleged victim.

Notably, while the alleged victim’s fear of experiencing physical injury must be reasonable, there is no legal requirement that they actually suffer injury.

Examples of Harassment in the First Degree

A few examples of Harassment in the First Degree include:

  • A person repeatedly makes threatening phone calls to their ex-partner;
  • A student follows a classmate home every day, causing the classmate to fear for her safety; or
  • A terminated employee repeatedly shows up at his former manager’s home for no legitimate purpose.
Related Offenses to NY Penal Law § 240.25

Depending on the circumstances surrounding an arrest, prosecutors bring Harassment in the First Degree charges along with one or more of the following:

  • Harassment in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 240.26
  • Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 240.30
  • Aggravated Harassment in the First Degree – NY Penal Law § 240.31
  • Disorderly Conduct – NY Penal Law § 240.20
  • Stalking in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 120.55
  • Stalking in the Third Degree – NY Penal Law § 120.50
  • Stalking in the Fourth Degree – NY Penal Law § 120.45
What Are the Defenses to Harassment in the First Degree?

Every crime has various defenses that can either lessen a defendant’s exposure or result in an acquittal at trial. Some of the most common defenses to Harassment in the First Degree include the following:

  • Under the circumstances, the alleged victim’s fear of physical injury was not reasonable;
  • The defendant’s actions were not intended to cause the alleged victim to fear for their safety;
  • The alleged victim made up the allegations that the defendant harassed them; and
  • The defendant’s actions constituted harassment, but they were limited to a single occasion.

Of course, there may be other defenses available in your case. To learn more about the best harassment defenses, reach out to an experienced NY criminal defense lawyer.

What Are the Penalties for Violating NY Penal Law § 240.25?

Harassment in the First Degree is a class B misdemeanor. In New York, class B misdemeanor crimes are punishable by up to three months in jail. The court may also assess a fine of up to $500.

Speak With an Experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorney About Harassment in the First Degree Charges Today

If you’ve been charged with Harassment in the First Degree, it is important that you understand what’s at stake and what you can do to fight the case against you. At the law firm of Tilem & Associates, P.C., out New York criminal defense lawyers are familiar with all the best harassment defenses and how to use them to reach the best possible result in each case. 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.

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