New York Penal Code § 121.12: Strangulation in the Second Degree

The act of obstructing a person’s breathing or causing them to stop breathing is against the law. A person who does this to someone else can potentially cause the other person to suffer serious injuries that can result in brain damage or even death. This act is a crime and is known as strangulation.

What is Strangulation in the Second Degree as Per New York Penal Code 121.12?

As per New York law, there are three specific criminal offenses related to the strangulation or choking of another person. One of those is strangulation in the second degree. Per New York’s Penal Code 121.12, a person can be prosecuted for this crime if they apply pressure to the neck or throat of another person or block their nose or mouth while intending to prevent them from breathing normally or to halt the circulation of their breath. When this crime is committed, regardless of the means the individual uses to impede another person’s breathing, the following can happen:

• The victim can fall into a stupor
• The victim can lose consciousness
• The victim can suffer a physical injury

An example of strangulation in the second degree can be seen in the case of People v. Carte from 2013. Bryan Carte was accused of choking his girlfriend while the two were eating pizza. He shoved a slice of pizza in the woman’s face and caused her to suffer scratches, cuts, abrasions and other marks across her neck. As a result of his actions, Carte was charged with the crime of strangulation in the second degree because he caused the woman a great deal of pain and injuries.

Possible Defenses for Strangulation in the Second Degree in New York

Strangulation, no matter what the degree of the crime, is serious and anyone charged should retain an experienced attorney who can build them a sufficient defense in court. To convict a person of strangulation in the second degree, the prosecutor would have to show that the victim lost consciousness or was impaired in some way as a direct result of the defendant’s actions. However, if that did not occur, the defense attorney can argue against it and the prosecution would have a difficult case in proving that the person committed strangulation in the second degree.

A common defense against this charge is that the defendant had a medical or dental purpose and did not actually strangle the other person. Per New York’s Penal Code 121.14, if the actions related to a valid medical or dental purpose, it is a strong defense against the charge.

Sentence for Strangulation in the Second Degree in New York

The crime of strangulation in the second degree is charged as a class D felony, which means that the maximum sentence a person convicted of it can face is seven years in prison. It is also considered a violent felony offense, which means that the judge will also add on another mandatory minimum sentence of two years to the person’s prison term. In addition, a person who is convicted of strangulation in the second degree can also face a fine of up to $5,000 and may possibly be required to pay as much as $15,000 in restitution to the victim.

Strangulation in the second degree is also considered a family offense, which means that if it was part of a domestic violence case, there may be special rules on top of these penalties.

Summary of Strangulation in the Second Degree as Per New York Penal Code 121.12

A person can be considered guilty of strangulation in the second degree if they obstruct a person’s breathing or blood circulation by squeezing a person’s neck or throat or covering their mouth or nose in a deliberate manner and if the victim suffers an injury or impairment or loses consciousness or falls into a stupor.

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