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New York Penal Law 135.65: Coercion in the first degree

By Spodek Law Group | May 4, 2017
(Last Updated On: July 26, 2023)

Last Updated on: 26th July 2023, 08:56 pm

In order to commit coercion, it means you are forcing another person to do something or refrain from doing something against their will. It is a criminal offense that usually involves a specific threat, such as physical violence, exposing a secret or damaging someone’s property. As Per the New York penal law 135.65, you can be charged with this crime and prosecuted for coercion in the first degree for forcing another person to do something by threatening them.

Typical Scenarios Involved in Coercion in the First Degree

Per the New York Penal Law 135.65, in order to commit coercion in the first degree, you must give a threat to another person while forcing them to do something or refrain from doing something. The typical situations involved include:

• Causing physical injury to the person
• Causing damage to another person’s property
• Threats that force a person to commit a felony
• Threats that involve causing physical injury to someone else
• Threats that violate another person’s duty as a public servant

Example of Coercion in the First Degree as Per New York Penal Law 135.65

An example of coercion in the first degree according to the New York Penal Law 135.65 is that there is a woman who is a recovering drug addict who recently relapsed after detoxification and rehab. At the same time that she relapsed, she was in the process of getting custody of her son. However, her drug dealer knows that she recently relapsed. He approaches her and asks her to help him sell drugs, but she refuses. The drug dealer then told the woman that if she didn’t sell drugs with him, he would tell her ex-husband that she was back doing drugs and she would have no chance to regain custody of her son. In this situation, the drug dealer can be charged with and convicted of the crime of coercion in the first degree because he is trying to get the woman to commit a crime by threatening to tell her ex-husband that she is once again abusing drugs.

Possible Defenses for Coercion in the First Degree

In a charge of coercion in the first degree, the prosecutor must prove that another person is suffering some type of injury as a result of your actions and that you intended to injure that person. The type of injury would have to be physical in nature due to the criminal statute. This means that the injury cannot simply be something minor like a small bruise that heals within a week. If you are charged with coercion in the first degree, your NYC criminal lawyer could use the defense that you did not force the other person to commit a felony but that the individual did so of their own free will and that you did not force them to commit a criminal act.

Penalties and Sentences for Coercion in the First Degree

The crime of coercion in the first degree is charged as a class D felony. As a result, the maximum sentence you can receive for it is seven years in prison. However, whether you see any prison time or if you spend less time in prison depends on whether you have a prior criminal history. If you have no prior felony convictions within the past 10 years, the judge may not give you any prison time, but you may receive a probation sentence of five years. However, with a prior felony conviction within the last 10 years, you can receive a prison sentence of two to four years.

New York Penal Law 135.60: Coercion in the second degree

New York Penal Law 135.60 is coercion in the second degree. It’s a form of bribery, and it’s punishable by up to one year in jail. Defined as a Class A misdemeanor, it also comes with the potential for up to three years of probation with or without a jail term for anyone found guilty of this crime in New York. To put it simply, coercion in the second degree is the act of requiring another person to engage in an act or perform a service they do not want to do, are not legally required to do, or they are uncomfortable with using a method of bribery that might compel them to do as they are told.

It’s illegal, it’s dangerous, and it’s often a way people get what they want. Unlike a child who might hear a parent tell them they must clean their room or they will lose their outdoor playtime privileges for a full day, this type of bribery is performed using illegal means. Those who are found guilty could face jail time or probation depending on the recommendation of the judge and those who are filing charges against you when you engage in illegal coercion.

Examples of Coercion in the Second Degree

When a person bribes another person for things they want done, it’s coercion. Take a woman who wants to have her ex-husband to pay her alimony in their divorce. He has no interest in paying her alimony, so she makes the decision to bribe him. She has a tape of the two of them engaging in a very intimate moment from their honeymoon. If he doesn’t agree to pay her alimony, she will take it upon herself to release that tape on the internet. It’s something that will ruin his career, but she doesn’t care.

She’s coercing him to do something she wants done by bribing him with something that will encourage him to do what she wants. It’s illegal, but it leaves the man in a very difficult situation. He now has to make a choice to allow someone to ruin his life or to do something he’s not comfortable doing. He can turn her in for this, and it can cause her to spend serious time in jail if she is found guilty of coercion in the second degree.


There are several defenses you might use in a case like this, but it’s imperative you call for the assistance of a NYC criminal attorney before the process begins. It’s not easy to get off on a charge like this without an attorney present to help you through your trial. The first defense has to do with the injuries the other person sustained. If a person did not sustain serious injuries as a result of coercion in the second degree, it’s possible charges will be dropped.

Injuries could mean anything from financial injury to personal injury to the loss of a job. Without injury, a coercion trial might turn into nothing more than a bribe gone wrong. It might work in your favor if you are the defendant, but it’s not always a guarantee. The other defense is you didn’t coerce anyone into doing anything. The job of an attorney with experience in this type of trial is to help you present your own case and walk way without a prison sentence. It’s possible your defense could take jail off the table and replace it with a minor probation term to serve as your punishment.

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