New York harassment laws prohibit a wide array of activities intended to harass, annoy, threaten, or alarm people. New York divides harassment into first and second degree crimes, as well as standard harassment and aggravated harassment.
In addition to these four forms of harassment (discussed below) there is a specific aggravated harassment statute that penalizes harassment of prison employees, probation officers, police officers, and other employees by causing them to come into contact with blood, semen, urine, feces, or toilet water.
New York Harassment Laws Overview
New York Penal Law § 240.21 - 240.32
|First Degree Harassment
First degree harassment occurs when a person intentionally and repeatedly harasses another person they:
- follow them in public; or
- engage in conduct that places the person in reasonable fear of injury.
First degree harassment is a class B misdemeanor.
|Second Degree Harassment
Second degree harassment occurs when, with the intention to harass, annoy, or alarm a person they:
- strike another person or attempt or threaten to do so;
- follow a person in public places;
- act in a way that causes alarm or seriously annoys another person and serves no legitimate purpose.
Second degree harassment is a violation. Violations are offenses that result in a fine but no jail time.
|Aggravated Harassment in the First Degree
Aggravated harassment in the first degree occurs when, with the intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or alarm another person because of their perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation they:
- damage premises primarily used for religious purposes and the damage exceeds fifty dollars;
- depict or otherwise place a swastika on any building, public or private, without the express permission of the owner of the property;
- depict or otherwise place a noose on any building, public or private, without the express permission of the owner of the property;
- set a cross on fire in public view; or
- have a previous conviction for the same offense.
Aggravated harassment in the first degree is a class E felony.
|Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree
Aggravated harassment in the second degree occurs when, with the intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or alarm another person they:
- communicate with a person, anonymously or not, by telephone, mail, or other written communication in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
- causes a communication of this kind to take place;
- makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation takes place, with no purpose of legitimate communication;
- strikes, or attempts or threatens to strike, a person on account of their perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation;
- strikes someone causing an injury to them; or
- is a repeat harassment offender.
Aggravated harassment in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
If you have additional questions about New York harassment laws, click on the links below for more information:
Charged With Harassment? An Attorney Can Help
New York harassment laws cover a very broad range of acts. Whether you are the victim of harassment, or are accused of harassing someone, the resulting case will involve an examination of accused's intent and the perceptions of the people involved. These are slippery concepts, and the experience of a qualified New York defense attorney can be invaluable in presenting your case.