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Stalking vs. Harassment in New York: What’s the Difference? 2024

Stalking vs. Harassment in New York: What’s the Difference? 2024

Laws related to stalking or harassment in New York are regularly updated in order to ensure the safety of state residents. However, these policies, as well as certain implications for the accused, can be ambiguous. In such cases, a New York criminal defense lawyer can help those who have been accused of stalking or harassment crimes more clearly understand the charges and the potential consequences they are facing.

Both harassment and stalking are considered to be serious offenses in New York that can have long-lasting consequences for the accused if they are ultimately found guilty. New York State has tough legislation that severely penalizes those who are accused of such crimes. The differences between stalking and harassment may be difficult to understand, but they involve clearly distinct charges and penalties.

Stalking vs. Harassment in New York

Stalking vs. Harassment in New York

Both stalking and harassment constitute behaviors that lead the victim to be in a state of alarm or fear. Stalking, however, is generally associated with a certain pattern of conduct that threatens or distresses a victim, while harassment is defined as certain actions that are meant to annoy or put a victim in distress.

A conviction for a harassment or stalking crime can result in jail or prison time, fines, and/or restraining orders. The severity of the penalties for perpetrators of stalking or harassment crimes will depend on the severity of the crimes committed.

Defining Stalking in New York

Stalking is generally defined as a situation in which one person is following another person, and the pursuit is unwanted. Stalking can encompass threatening behavior or forms of repeated harassment. Stalking is common in many domestic violence situations and is often used by abusers as a means of control.

In order to prosecute the accused of a stalking crime in New York, it must be proven that they intentionally wanted to instill distress or fear or cause harm to the victim or that they were aware that their behavior could have done so.

Defining Harassment

The crime of harassment generally includes conduct that can inconvenience, alarm, or annoy a person. Harassment conduct can have a variety of forms and includes behavior that is either undesired or intrusive. Harassment can be verbal, physical, or sexual. There are specific federal laws that establish protections for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. In such cases, seeking advice from harassment criminal attorney is essential to understand your rights and legal options.

Examples of Stalking and Harassment

Examples of stalking include physically following someone around, surveilling them, threatening them, repeatedly contacting them without their consent, or carrying out any behavior that instills fear or distress.

Harassment behaviors can include those such as verbal abuse or gestures that are offensive to an individual based on the context of the situation. Threatening a person or making physical contact with them can also be considered harassment. Any behavior that is repeated and annoys or startles a victim can be classified as harassment.

New York’s Anti-Stalking Law

New York has a specific law that was established to define and criminalize stalking in the state. The NY Stalking Law allows prosecutors to go after people who are engaged in stalking behavior. Under the law, the courts can sentence those who are found guilty to serious penalties.

For example, an individual who is threatening the safety of a person or their property or continues to follow someone after they have been asked not to may spend up to three months in jail. Furthermore, an individual who puts another person in a state of fear for their life or their safety may face up to one year in jail.

Stalking in the first degree is charged as a Class D felony. It constitutes stalking involving a weapon and a perpetrator who has a previous conviction within the past five years or who recklessly or intentionally harms the victim. When combined with reckless or intentional harm, a case in which the victim is under 15 and the perpetrator is over 20 can also constitute first-degree stalking and a Class D felony.


Q: What Factors Can Aggravate a Stalking Case in New York?

A: In New York, two major instances can dramatically aggravate the severity of the charges and subsequent penalties of a stalking case. For example, an individual over the age of 21 who continues to follow or contact a child under 14 or shows a weapon to make a person fear for their life or safety can spend up to four years in prison. Furthermore, an individual who carries out a sexual offense or causes physical harm while stalking a person can serve a maximum prison time of seven years.

Q: What Happens if I Break a Restraining Order in New York?

A: Restraining orders are put in place in New York to ensure the safety of individuals who have prior experiences that prove a specific person may be putting them in imminent danger. Therefore, it is critical to follow any restraining orders that have been issued by New York courts. Breaching an order can result in felony charges associated with severe consequences on top of any existing charges.

Q: Is Stalking in New York a Federal Crime?

A: Stalking crimes in New York typically fall under state jurisdiction. This means that state prosecutors are responsible for pressing charges against the defendant. However, there are instances in which New York stalking can be considered a federal crime, such as if the stalking involves crossing state lines.

Q: Can You Press Charges for New York Harassment?

A: Yes, it is possible to press charges for instances that may be considered harassment in New York, such as unwanted threats, physical contact, lewd remarks, or repeated messaging, as well as following a person. Any type of behavior that may cause a victim to be distressed or alarmed or that has no clear reason or purpose can be reported as harassment as well.

New York Stalking & Harassment Lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC

If you have been accused of stalking or harassment in the state of New York, it is important to have a strong criminal lawyer who can defend you against the charges brought forward.

The criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, have years of experience analyzing prosecutors’ cases against defendants, working to build strong counter-arguments, and finding weaknesses in cases that can boost overall outcomes. Get in contact with our law firm today so that we can begin discussing your case.

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