N.Y. Penal Law § 120.45 deals with the subject of stalking, an increasingly alarming criminal behavior in today’s very easy to track modern world. With devices such as smartphones and GPS, it has made the problem of stalking more visible and terrifying than ever before. The legal definition of stalking in the fourth degree differs somewhat from what we might think of in everyday terms. It’s not just a single behavior – though that single behavior may be classified as another crime – but a pattern of behaviors that constitute stalking of a victim. In New York, stalking in the fourth degree is considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a less serious offense than a felony, but rest assured that it’s a very serious crime as well, and anyone with a stalking conviction on their record would likely need to worry about things like employment or housing. Explaining even a misdemeanor to a potential employer or landlord is never a pleasant thing, so if you’re accused of stalking in the fourth degree, seeking the advice of our skilled attorneys is essential.
Stalking in the fourth-degree requirements
To be charged with this crime, you must be guilty of one out of three of the following things:
– Visit someone at their job or business and communicate with them in a way that might jeopardize their employment
– Repeatedly communicate, track, or follow a person in such a way as to make them fear you might physically harm them, their family, or their property
– Repeatedly communicate, track, or follow someone in such a way as to cause emotional or mental harm
All three of these things may be present in the perpetrator’s actions or it may only be one of them in order for them to be charged with stalking in the fourth degree. This is a lesser offense than felony stalking cases that carry a prison term of a year or more as penalty, but don’t take a Class B misdemeanor like fourth degree stalking lightly either. There are stiff penalties for this kind of crime, and because there is a direct victim – a person – it may look even worse when potential employers or landlords find this type of crime in your history. The consequences of a misdemeanor are still very serious and should be considered as such.
Defenses For Stalking in the Fourth Degree
When you’re charged with stalking in the fourth degree, the charges are allegations. It’s what another person says you’ve said and done. Sometimes the other person’s story is made up or exaggerated. It’s your lawyer’s duty to sort through any of the evidence and then prepare a good defense for you. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of contesting the evidence and proving that you are not in fact guilty of fourth degree stalking. For example, someone may claim that you came into their place of work, screamed at them, or behaved in a way that could have gotten them fired. If you didn’t do those things, it’s up to your attorney to prove that you never went into the person’s place of work.
Because this is a class B misdemeanor, you’ll face up to 3 months in prison and a fine of up to $500 if you are convicted. It’s our attorneys job to make sure that you aren’t convicted of this crime. Whenever possible, we’ll fight for you and have the charges dropped. At the very least, we’ll get reduced sentencing or probation and fight on your side until we get the best possible outcome. Call today for help.