Regardless of location, it is illegal to cause another person to stop breathing or to obstruct their ability to breathe. This is usually done by strangling or choking a person, which are very serious criminal acts. These violent acts are viewed as extremely serious in the state of New York and elsewhere because they can result in grave injuries and can even lead to fatalities.
What is Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation in New York?
As per New York’s Penal Code, choking a person is considered criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation. Via the Penal Code 121.11, a person can be charged and prosecuted for the crime of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation if they block another person’s nose or mouth or put pressure on a person’s neck or throat to block their normal breathing or blood circulation.
An example of this serious crime is People v. Figueroa, which took place in 2013. The defendant was convicted of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation after he had placed his hands around his girlfriend’s neck and choked her. The woman struggled as she tried to catch her breath. There were witnesses to the crime who stated that the defendant had his left hand on her throat and his right on the back of her neck. The woman’s eyes bulged and she turned white as she continued to struggle to breathe. The witnesses said the incident lasted around two or three seconds.
Possible Defenses for Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation in New York
There is only a statutory defense to the crime of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation as per the criminal code. According to the New York Penal Code 121.14, if a person has a legitimate medical or dental purpose for the action, then they would have a valid defense against a charge of strangulation or choking. Additionally, if the defendant is able to prove that they did not intend to obstruct the person’s normal breathing or blood circulation, it may be a legitimate defense against the charge.
Sentence for Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation in New York
The charge for criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation in the state of New York is considered a class A misdemeanor. It carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail. In some cases, a judge may not even sentence a defendant who is convicted of this crime to any jail time. However, there may be a sentence of the individual being ordered to serve probation for a period of three years.
Generally speaking, it’s worth noting that criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation is also considered to be a family offense. In other words, this is because the majority of incidents of this crime involve two people who closely and intimately know one another, such as a married couple or a couple that is not married but are in a romantic, intimate relationship. If it is a case of domestic violence, the defendant can be prosecuted with certain special rules related to that crime.
Summary of the New York Penal Code 121.11, Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation
A person is considered guilty of committing criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation when they deliberately intend to prevent a person from breathing normally or obstruct the circulation of their blood when they perform the following violent acts:
• Exerts pressure on the throat or neck of the other person
• Blood the other person’s nose or mouth or both