The crime of menacing a police officer involves an individual intentionally placing, or attempting to place, a law enforcement officer in a situation where they have a reasonable fear of being injured, experiencing serious personal injury or death. This occurs when a person displays a deadly weapon to the law enforcement officer.
The deadly weapon could be a pistol, machine gun, revolver, shotgun, rifle or other firearms. It does not matter if the weapon is or is not operable. This happens when a law enforcement officer is involved with performing their official duties. The defendant knows or should have known the victim was a member of law enforcement. There is no legal requirement for a person to actually harm a law enforcement officer. There is also no requirement for any physical contact to be made between the law enforcement officer and the defendant. Anyone who causes a law enforcement officer to believe they are facing imminent bodily harm or death when doing their duty can be charged with menacing a police officer.
It is possible for someone to steal something out of the back of a truck and have an altercation with the truck driver. A law enforcement officer in uniform could witness the attack. They begin to chase the person running away with stolen items. The law enforcement officer yells to the person running that he is a police officer and gives a command for the person to stop running. When the person with the stolen items stops running, they brandish a firearm that is unloaded. The law enforcement officer reasonably believes they are facing a situation where they could experience bodily harm or death. It does not matter if the firearm was or was not loaded. This person with the stolen items can be charged with menacing a police officer.
Law Enforcement Identification
A law enforcement officer will identify themselves during a chase and give a command for the person running to stop. It is easy to identify a police officer in full uniform. The New York legal standard is if any reasonable individual in identical circumstances would have known the victim was a law enforcement officer performing their duties. It is possible for a police officer to be off duty but still carry their weapon and badge. Should they notice someone steals out of the back of a truck, identify themselves as a law enforcement officer and display their badge, the law enforcement officer is considered acting in the course of their duties.
Those who are charged with menacing a police or peace officer are facing the possibility of being found guilty of a class D felony. The maximum sentence when found guilty is seven years in prison. It is also classified as a violent felony. This means a judge must give a sentence of a minimum of two years in prison to a person found guilty.
When a person is charged with menacing a police officer or peace officer, the prosecutor has the burden of proof. To obtain a conviction, they must show beyond a reasonable doubt the person on trial knew or should have known the victim was a law enforcement officer. Should the law enforcement officer not identify themselves as a law enforcement officer and not be in uniform, the prosecutor will have a very difficult time meeting their burden of proof. A prosecutor will also have to prove a person knew the law enforcement officer was in the process of doing their lawful duty at the time of the incident.
Any individual charged with committing a crime against a law enforcement officer who is doing their legal duty is facing serious consequences. A conviction could have a person sent to prison. They will then have a criminal record containing a conviction of a violent felony offense. Once a person has served their prison time, this will make moving forward with life more challenging. A person charged with menacing a police officer will need the best legal help possible. An experienced criminal attorney will know what is the best possible outcome for an individual situation. They will have the skills and experience to make it happen.