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New York Penal Code 120 45 Stalking Fourth Degree

By Spodek Law Group | July 17, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 15, 2023)

Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 01:17 pm

New York Penal Code 120.45 – Stalking in the Fourth Degree

Stalking in the fourth degree is a class B misdemeanor in New York, carrying up to 3 months in jail and a $500 fine if convicted[1][2]. It involves engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes fear of harm or actual emotional harm, with no legitimate purpose[3].

What Constitutes Stalking in the Fourth Degree

To be guilty of stalking in the fourth degree, a person must intentionally and repeatedly[4]:

  • Follow, track, or communicate with someone in a way likely to cause reasonable fear of harm to them, their family, acquaintances, or property. This includes installing a tracking device on someone’s vehicle without their consent[5].
  • Follow, call, text, or contact someone after being clearly told to stop, causing mental or emotional harm.
  • Contact someone at their home or workplace after being told to cease, threatening their employment or business.

The behavior must be directed at a specific person and have no legitimate purpose, like collecting a debt. Reasonable fear means an average person would be afraid in the same circumstances[1].

Examples of Fourth Degree Stalking

  • A man repeatedly shows up uninvited at his ex-girlfriend’s workplace to see her after she ended their relationship and told him to leave her alone[1].
  • A woman places a GPS tracking device on her ex-husband’s car without his knowledge to follow his movements after their divorce[4].
  • Someone anonymously sends threatening letters and emails to a business owner after being fired as an employee[3].

Penalties if Convicted

Since stalking in the fourth degree is a class B misdemeanor, potential penalties if convicted include[2]:

  • Up to 3 months in jail.
  • Up to a $500 fine.
  • Up to 1 year of probation.

Probation may have conditions like a restraining order, counseling, community service, or substance abuse treatment[4]. Stalking convictions remain permanently on a criminal record.

Fourth degree stalking charges may be accompanied by other related offenses like[4]:

  • Third, second, or first degree stalking.
  • Menacing in the second or third degree.
  • Harassment in the first or second degree.
  • Aggravated harassment in the first or second degree.
  • Promoting a suicide attempt.

These charges depend on the specific circumstances and details of the alleged stalking behavior.

Possible Defenses

There are defenses that may apply in fighting fourth degree stalking charges[5]:

  • The victim’s fear was not reasonable under the circumstances.
  • The defendant had no intent to cause fear or harm.
  • The defendant had a legitimate purpose behind their actions.
  • The victim fabricated or exaggerated the allegations.
  • Misidentification – the wrong person is accused.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the available evidence and determine if any defenses may apply in a particular case.

There are a few key laws and legal precedents related to stalking charges in New York:

  • People v. Tomossone (2013) – The defendant was convicted of fourth degree stalking for following and surveilling his supervisor after being suspended from work. His actions caused his supervisor to fear for his safety[1].
  • New York Penal Code Section 120.45 – Outlines the elements and penalties for stalking in the fourth degree[2].
  • New York Penal Code Section 120.50-120.60 – Cover stalking charges in the third, second, and first degrees, which are more serious felony offenses[3].
  • Cyberstalking – While not specified in the stalking statutes, cyberstalking such as through social media can potentially lead to stalking charges if the pattern of behavior meets the elements of the law[6].

Being accused of stalking can have devastating effects on a person’s reputation, freedom, and future. Anyone facing charges for stalking in the fourth degree or related offenses needs an experienced criminal defense lawyer on their side. An attorney can carefully examine the evidence and work to get charges reduced or dismissed where possible. They can also advocate for the least punitive sentencing if charges are not defeated pre-trial.

With the severe consequences stalking charges carry, it is critical to secure legal representation right away to start building a strong defense. A knowledgeable lawyer understands these complex cases and the most effective strategies based on the unique circumstances of each defendant. They can make sure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. Don’t leave your fate to chance – consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if facing accusations of fourth degree stalking in New York.

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