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New York Penal Code %c2%a7 120 18 Menacing Police Officer Peace Officer

By Spodek Law Group | July 17, 2023
(Last Updated On: July 28, 2023)

Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:22 pm

Understanding the Charge of Menacing a Police or Peace Officer in New York

Interactions with law enforcement can sometimes escalate into confrontations leading to criminal charges. In New York, Penal Code § 120.18 makes it a felony to intentionally place or attempt to place a police officer or peace officer in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury, or death during the course of their duties. This article provides an overview of the elements of this offense as well as potential penalties and defenses.

The Crime of Menacing a Police or Peace Officer

Under § 120.18, a person is guilty of menacing a police officer or peace officer when:

  • The defendant’s actions were intended to place the officer in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury, or death;
  • The officer was engaged in the course of performing their duties; and
  • The defendant knew or reasonably should have known the victim was a police or peace officer.

The crime focuses on the intent to create fear more than any actual injury or physical act. Threats, violence, intimidating gestures, or displaying weapons can satisfy the elements if they reasonably caused the officer to fear harm.

What Constitutes a Police or Peace Officer

The statute protects both police officers and peace officers. This includes:

  • Police officers at all levels (local, state, federal)
  • Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs
  • Corrections officers
  • Parole and probation officers
  • Court officers
  • Some medical personnel

The key is that the victim must be acting in an official law enforcement or peacekeeping capacity at the time of the incident. Off-duty officers could potentially be covered depending on the circumstances.

Penalties Upon Conviction

Menacing a police or peace officer is a Class E felony in New York, carrying the following penalties:

  • 1 to 4 years in state prison
  • Up to $5,000 in fines
  • Parole supervision after release

If the defendant has a previous conviction within 10 years under certain sections, including assault, the menacing charge becomes a Class D violent felony. This substantially enhances penalties to:

  • 2 to 7 years in prison
  • Fines up to $5,000
  • Mandatory post-release supervision of 1.5 to 3 years

The court may also issue orders of protection and require anger management, mental health counseling, or substance abuse treatment. A criminal record can hurt job prospects, professional licensing, and military service.

Possible Defenses to Menacing an Officer Charges

Some ways a skilled New York criminal defense lawyer may defend against § 120.18 charges include:

  • No actual threat was made against the officer
  • The defendant did not have the requisite intent to cause fear
  • The officer’s fear was unreasonable under the circumstances
  • The officer was not engaged in official duties
  • Mistaken identity – The defendant is not the one who committed the act
  • False allegations by the officer

The prosecution has the burden of proving all elements beyond a reasonable doubt, which provides opportunities to beat the charges.

An attorney may also negotiate with the District Attorney to get charges reduced in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser offense. This can help avoid the most severe penalties.

Experienced NY Criminal Defense Attorney

Facing criminal charges for allegedly threatening or menacing a police officer can have devastating consequences that follow you for life. But the seasoned defense lawyers at Spodek Law Group have helped many clients fight back against such allegations and achieve favorable outcomes. They will thoroughly investigate your case and build the strongest possible defense.

Don’t leave your future up to chance. Reach out now for dedicated and aggressive legal representation. Call 212-300-5196 or contact the firm online for a free consultation.

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