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New York Penal Code § 120.14 Menacing Second Degree

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

Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 09:20 am

New York Penal Code § 120.14 Menacing Second Degree – What You Need to Know

New York Penal Code § 120.14 covers the crime of Menacing in the Second Degree. This law makes it illegal to intentionally place or attempt to place another person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a weapon or repeatedly following/harassing someone.Menacing is no joke – it’s an A misdemeanor that can land you in jail for up to a year. Let’s break down the key things you need to know about NY Penal Code § 120.14 so you can avoid trouble.

The Basics

There’s 3 main ways you can be charged with Menacing 2nd Degree:

  • Displaying a Weapon – If you pull out what appears to be a gun, knife, or other weapon in a threatening manner, you’ve likely committed menacing. Even if the weapon isn’t real, the display of it can cause reasonable fear.
  • Stalking/Harassment – Repeatedly following or harassing someone to the point they reasonably fear injury or death. Think stalker behavior.
  • Violating an Order of Protection – If you already have a restraining order against you, and you commit 3rd degree menacing against that person, it gets bumped up to a 2nd degree charge.

So in a nutshell – don’t pull out weapons on people, and definitely don’t stalk them. Seems obvious but hey, people do dumb things when emotions run high.


As mentioned menacing 2nd is an A misdemeanor. If convicted, you can face:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1000 fine
  • Permanent criminal record

That’s serious stuff for a simple moment of poor judgement. Definitely want to avoid this charge if possible.

Real World Examples

To understand this law better, let’s look at some real world examples of what would (and wouldn’t) constitute Menacing 2nd Degree:

  • Dan points an unloaded BB gun at his neighbor during an argument about tree branches. This could be charged as menacing since Dan displayed what appeared to be a firearm, causing reasonable fear.
  • Maria waits outside her ex-boyfriend’s workplace every day for a week, causing him to fear for his safety. Stalking/harassing behavior that could lead to a menacing charge.
  • Frank sees his co-worker Joe with Joe’s wife at a restaurant. Frank says “Hey Joe, does your wife know about your affair with Sarah from accounting?” While rude, Frank did not display a weapon or stalk/harass anyone, so this alone wouldn’t qualify as menacing.
  • Rachel slaps her boyfriend Chris during an argument. Chris calls the police. Assault perhaps, but no weapon display or stalking behavior, so not menacing.

So in summary – menacing is all about the repeated harassment or threatening display of weapons. Simply being a jerk isn’t enough.


If you do get slapped with a menacing charge, there are defenses that your criminal lawyer can use to fight it:

  • No weapon – Argue that you didn’t actually display a weapon or anything resembling one.
  • No reasonable fear – Argue the alleged victim wasn’t actually afraid or that their fear was unreasonable under the circumstances.
  • Misidentification – Argue you weren’t the person who committed the alleged menacing act.
  • Self-defense – Argue your actions were legally justified self-defense against an attacker.
  • False accusations – Argue the alleged victim is making up the whole thing to harm or manipulate you.

A skilled lawyer knows how to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and show reasonable doubt. Don’t admit anything to police and let your attorney handle it.

Domestic Violence Cases

If your menacing case involves family or an intimate partner, it will likely be treated as a domestic violence incident. This means:

  • Police will be required to make an arrest, even if the situation seems minor. They don’t have a choice.
  • The court will issue a restraining order, banning any contact with the alleged victim. Even sending a text or email could violate the order and lead to a contempt charge.
  • Other related charges like assault, harassment or weapons possession may be added on. Prosecutors get aggressive with domestic cases.

Simply put, the stakes are high when family is involved. Don’t try to handle it yourself – get a lawyer on your side immediately.

The Court Process

If arrested for menacing 2nd degree, here’s a quick rundown of what to expect:

  • You’ll be cuffed, booked, and held until arraignment where bail is set. Have your lawyer argue for release without bail.
  • There will be several pre-trial court dates to handle motions and negotiate a plea deal. Your lawyer may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed.
  • If no plea deal, your case will go to trial before a judge or jury, where the prosecution must prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
  • If convicted, you’ll be sentenced to jail time, probation, and/or fines. Appeal options may be available.

The whole legal process can take many months to resolve. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Listen to your attorney’s advice at every stage for the best results.

Avoiding False Allegations

To steer clear of a bogus menacing charge:

  • Avoid confrontations with unstable people prone to exaggeration. Walk away if things get heated.
  • Don’t pull out weapons, even if you feel physically threatened. Claim self-defense later if needed.
  • If someone seems obsessed with you, document all interactions and report to police. This creates a paper trail.
  • Install security cameras at home and work to capture any harassing behavior.
  • If falsely accused, don’t try to contact the accuser for any reason. It may be seen as intimidation.
  • Hire a pitbull lawyer to pressure the DA into dropping dubious allegations.

The key is creating evidence of your innocence and letting a pro handle the rest.

Changes to NY Penal Code

Over the years, New York has strengthened its menacing laws with tougher penalties and broader definitions of what constitutes a crime.For example, displaying pretty much anything that resembles a gun – even if it’s obviously fake – can now lead to a menacing charge after numerous police shootings of people holding toy weapons.Some legal experts argue this overly broad definition leads to abuse, with harmless actions being charged as menacing. But so far, the courts have upheld the expanded interpretation.The line between criminal menacing and just blowing off steam continues to blur. Best to avoid any behavior that could conceivably be seen as threatening just to be safe.

When Harassment Crosses the Line

Menacing charges often arise from neighbor disputes, road rage incidents, workplace conflicts, landlord-tenant arguments, and volatile relationships.Emotions run high, someone loses their cool and crosses a line. Next thing you know, you’re in cuffs for menacing.If you find yourself in a heated dispute, take a breather before it escalates into criminal territory. Never lay hands on anyone or display anything resembling a weapon – even if it seems harmless to you.If the other person just won’t let it go, start documenting their obsessive behavior and get authorities involved. Crazy people will try to pull you down to their level. Don’t fall into that trap.

The Court of Public Opinion

Even if a menacing charge doesn’t stick, just being arrested can ruin your reputation. People will assume you’re some gun-waving lunatic.Falsely accused? Don’t take it lying down. Sue for defamation, malicious prosecution, or false arrest. Turn the tables on the liar.When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Use the bad experience as inspiration to advocate for menacing law reform. Write your local politician. Start a support group for other false accusation victims. Turn pain into purpose.But also learn from the experience. Don’t put yourself in risky situations around unstable people. De-escalate conflicts early. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of legal headaches down the road.

What to Do If Charged

Let’s wrap this up with a quick checklist if you or a loved one is accused of Menacing 2nd Degree:

  • Remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don’t try to explain yourself.
  • Don’t discuss the case with anyone except your attorney.
  • Follow your lawyer’s instructions to the letter throughout the entire legal process.
  • If convicted, appeal the ruling and explore all options to avoid jail time.
  • Seek counseling to process the emotions and repair damaged relationships.
  • Learn from the experience and make better choices going forward.

With the right legal strategy and personal growth, a menacing charge doesn’t have to ruin your life. Now you know the law and consequences – make smart decisions.We all lose our cool sometimes. But learn how to walk away rather than escalate a situation into criminal charges that will haunt you forever. Don’t become another Menacing 2nd Degree statistic!This covers the basics of NY Penal Code § 120.14. Stay safe out there and beware of crazy people looking to drag you down. De-escalate conflicts early and often. And if falsely accused, fight back hard against the lies. Your liberty and reputation are on the line.

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