New York Laws Addressing Stalking

Under New York laws there are four degrees of stalking. Victims commonly, unfortunately, also experience other crimes such as trespassing, breaking and entering, or kidnapping.

What is stalking?

Stalking is any persistent and unwanted attention by a person or group directed at another person. A stalker's behavior is related to harassment and intimidation and makes their victims fearful, annoyed, or feeling threatened.

There are many types of stalking, here are a few examples:

  • A stalker may follow the victim in person or they may monitor them.
  • A stalker may make repeated unwanted phone calls to the victim or the victim's close relatives.
  • A stalker may engage in cyberstalking where they harass their victim online.
  • A stalker may secretly take images or video of their victim.

It's important to understand the laws against stalking because oftentimes stalking incidents frequently escalate.

According to the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) as high as 1 out of every 12 women will be stalked during her lifetime and 1 out of every 45 men will be stalked during his lifetime.  

According to Stalking Resource Center website, New York has many laws addressing the various types and degrees of stalking. See the following list for a short summary of each degree. For more detailed information, click here to be taken to the Stalking Resource Center's website. 

(This is not an exhausted list of laws. Additionally the following information do not address the laws fully. It is imperative that you conduct your own research into each law. There are also laws addressing harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, and assault.)

A person is guilty of stalking in the fourth degree (a misdemeanor) when they engage in conduct that they reasonably should know:

  • Causes reasonable fear of harm or safety to a person or their close relations;
  • Causes mental or emotional harm to the person (conduct may include following, initiating communication, telephoning) and the alleged stalker was previously informed to cease the behaviors;
  • Causes the victim to fear for their employment or feel that their career is threatened due to the alleged stalker's conduct (following, initiating conversation, telephoning) at the victim's employment, and they were previously informed to cease the behaviors.

A person is guilty of stalking in the third degree (a misdemeanor) when:

  • They have committed stalking in the fourth degree 3+ separate times against 3 or more victims and they haven't been previously convicted for these;
  • They have committed stalking in the fourth degree against a person and have been previously convicted (within 10 years);
  • They intentionally harass their victim and intentionally behave in a way toward a person that is likely to cause that person to reasonably fear physical harm, commission of sex offense against, kidnapping or unlawful imprisonment.

A person is guilty of stalking in the second degree (a felony) when:

  • They commit a crime of stalking in the third degree and displays, possesses, or threatens use of a dangerous or deadly weapon;
  • They commit a crime of stalking in the third degree and were previously convicted in the last 5 years;
  • They commit a crime of stalking in the fourth degree and have been previously convicted of a crime of stalking in the third degree;
  • They are twenty-one years or older and follow a person under the age of fourteen repeatedly or they behave in a way that puts the victim who's under the age of fourteen in reasonable fear for their life or fear of physical injury.

A person is guilty of stalking in the first degree (a felony) when they commit a crime of stalking in the third degree or second degree and:

  • They cause intentional or reckless physical injury to their victim.

According to the New York Office of the Attorney General, some tips for any person who is being stalked: 

  • Avoid eye contact with stalkers;
  • Be really aware of your surroundings at all times;
  • Never respond to any contact by the stalker;
  • Seek an Order of Protection;
  • and, Change home locks.

 

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