The New York Penal Code takes a firm position against stalking. The potential penalties for stalking are serious. They are designed to address a person found guilty of stalking, but also to send a message to potential stalkers that the consequences for this type of behavior is serious.
The New York Penal Code defines stalking generally as the repeated, possibly obsessive, and unwanted behavior directed toward another individual. The conduct leaves the alleged victim of stalking feeling emotionally, physically, or mentally threatened.
Elements of Stalking in the Fourth Degree
Stalking in the fourth degree is the least serious form of stalking in New York. It is one of two different classifications of stalking that rank as misdemeanors.
A charge of stalking in the fourth degree can arise in a situation in which a person repeatedly follows, tracks, or communicates with someone else with such frequency that the target of the conduct feels the perpetrator may cause physical harm. In addition, stalking in the fourth degree can be charged in a situation that involves following, tracking, or communicating with such frequency that the target of the conduct suffers mental or emotional harm of some nature.
Finally, stalking in the fourth degree can be charged if the perpetrator shows up at the target’s place of employment, or communicates with the target at his or her place of employment, in a manner that puts that target’s job at risk.
Examples of Stalking in the Fourth Degree
An example of stalking in the fourth degree is a situation in which a man repeatedly shows up at his ex-girlfriend’s place of employment with an invitation to do so. Despite being asked to leave, and to never return, the individual continues to appear at his ex-girlfriend’s place of employment.
Another example of stalking in the fourth degree involves a woman who calls a man at home, on his mobile, and even at work, multiple times every day. The man has asked the woman to cease contacting him in any way. She refuses to stop.
Sentence for Stalking in the Fourth Degree
Stalking in the fourth degree is classified as a class B misdemeanor. The maximum possible sentence for stalking in the fourth degree is a three month jail sentence. In the alternative, the court could impose a term of probation for one year. The court also has the ability to fine a person convicted of stalking in the fourth degree of up to $500.
A person with no significant criminal history is likely to be sentenced to probation in a stalking in the fourth degree case. This is highly likely if an individual facinf a fourth degree stalking charge has never been formally accused of stalking in the past.
Defenses to Stalking in the Fourth Degree
NYC criminal attorneys can develop a defense to a charge of stalking in the fourth degree. One defense centers on the argument that there exists a valid reason for the contact. For example, if the alleged victim owes the purported stalker money, a defense may be that the person charged with stalking in the fourth degree is only trying to collect a debt. The contact by the alleged stalker may be annoying, however it may not be illegal.
A skilled, experienced New York criminal defense lawyer will provide a case evaluation during an initial consultation with a prospective client. Legal counsel will also respond to any questions a person may have regarding stalking in the fourth degree. As a matter of general practice, New York criminal defense attorneys typically charge no fee for an initial consultation in a case involving stalking in the fourth degree.