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New York Penal Law 135 65 Coercion First Degree

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

Last Updated on: 17th October 2023, 10:57 pm

New York Penal Law 135.65 Coercion First Degree

Coercion in the first degree is a serious felony offense in New York that involves using threats to compel someone to engage in illegal or harmful conduct. This article will provide an overview of the law, typical scenarios, penalties, and defenses.

What is Coercion First Degree?

New York Penal Law 135.65 defines coercion in the first degree as compelling or inducing someone to engage in conduct they have a legal right to abstain from by instilling a fear you will cause injury or property damage[1].

It also includes compelling someone to:

  • Commit or attempt to commit a felony
  • Cause or attempt to cause physical injury
  • Violate their duties as a public servant

Coercion involves taking away someone’s free will through threats. It is more serious than harassment which may involve annoying or alarming someone without actually forcing them into actions[2].

Coercion differs from robbery which involves taking property through force or intimidation. With coercion, the focus is on compelling actions rather than taking property[3].

Elements of the Crime

For a prosecutor to prove coercion first degree, they must establish several elements[4]:

  • The defendant compelled or induced the victim to engage or not engage in conduct through threats
  • The victim had a legal right to make their own choice about the conduct
  • The threats involved physical harm, property damage, or forcing illegal/harmful acts
  • The defendant intended to coerce the victim

The threats can be against the victim directly or threaten someone else the victim cares about.

Penalties and Sentencing

Coercion first degree is a class D felony in New York[1]. Potential penalties include:

  • Up to 7 years in prison
  • Fines up to $5,000
  • Probation up to 5 years

Sentencing depends on the specific circumstances and defendant’s criminal history. First-time offenders sometimes get probation instead of prison. But prior felonies within 10 years typically result in at least 2-4 years prison[5].

Common Examples

Some examples of coercion first degree include:

  • Threatening to physically harm someone unless they commit a felony crime for you
  • A drug dealer threatening to expose an addict’s relapse unless they sell drugs
  • Forcing someone into prostitution through threats of injury or releasing embarrassing information
  • A supervisor demanding sexual favors at work by threatening termination or discipline

The key is using threats to take away free will and choice from the victim[6].


Several legal defenses may apply in coercion cases:

  • Free will: The victim made their own choice despite any threats. The defendant did not truly compel them.
  • No intent: The defendant did not intend to coerce the victim, it was a misunderstanding.
  • No ability: The defendant did not have the actual ability to carry out threats, so there was no real coercion.
  • Self-defense: Compelling the victim was necessary for reasonable self-defense.
  • Duress: The defendant only made threats due to duress from someone else.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the evidence and determine if any defenses may apply.

Coercion first degree is a very serious felony charge that can result in years in prison and a permanent criminal record. Never try to handle one of these cases without an attorney. A skilled lawyer understands how to build a defense to get charges reduced or dismissed. They can also advocate for alternatives to incarceration like probation, if appropriate. If you or a loved one face coercion charges, consult with a criminal defense attorney right away.

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