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NY Penal Law § 120.55: Stalking in the second degree

NY Penal Law § 120.55: Stalking in the second degree

Over the past few decades, since stalking was first introduced to New York’s criminal code, apprehending and prosecuting stalkers has become a priority of law enforcement. Law enforcement perceives any act of stalking as a serious criminal offense.  This is because even acts that people might consider innocuous, such as calling someone numerous times in a day, often lead to more heinous criminal acts such as kidnapping, assault, and sexual assault. Stalking entails repeated, unwanted behavior that appears obsessive toward another individual. As a result of such behavior, that individual feels emotionally, mentally or physically threatened.  Under New York Penal Code § 120.55, the crime of stalking in the second degree involves engaging in conduct that gives the victim reason to believe and fear that you will physically harm, kidnap, commit a sex crime, or commit a sex offense against them, and in the course of posing this threat against them, you also display a weapon. Alternative conditions for this charge under the criminal code include: 


  1. Doing the above indicated acts after having previously been convicted of a predicate sex offense, or
  2. Stalking at least 10 different individuals in 10 separate instances.


An Example

A man places calls to his ex-girlfriend’s phone 5-10 times per day over the course of a week. On several of those occasions, he also showed up at her apartment,and he demanded that she come with him out of the apartment.  While making hsi demand, he showed her a gun. This man probably could be prosecuted for the crime of stalking in the second degree, because his conduct placed his ex-girlfriend in reasonable fear for her life.  The important factor in this is that he displayed a gun.


Offenses that are Related

Stalking in the fourth degree: New York Penal Code § 120.45

Stalking in the third degree: New York Penal Code § 120.50

Stalking in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 120.60

Kidnapping in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 135.20

Harassment in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 240.25

Aggravated harassment in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 240.30


The Sentence

Due to the fact that stalking in the second degree is categorized as a class E felony, if you are convicted, the maximum sentence you could be facing is 4 years in state prison and a fine of as much as $5,000. The final determination on the length of your prison sentence will depend on factors such as your prior criminal record. Moreover, as part of the criminal process, the prosecutor may request and the judge may grant an Order of Protection in favor of the victim. Simply stated, an Order of Protection (formerly referred to as a Restraining Order) is a court order requiring you to stay away from another person.

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