What Does It Mean to Be a Menace?

A menace is something that threatens or is likely to cause harm. In New York, a person may be charged with an offense referred to as criminal menacing for intentionally making someone else fear that they may sustain injury or death at the hands of the other person. There are three degrees of this crime, and depending on the circumstances, it could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

Various situations exist in which a person may be charged with criminal menacing. In many cases, such accusations arise in "road rage" incidents – when a motorist takes their anger or frustration out on another driver or pedestrian. For instance, suppose Kim is traveling down the highway when the driver, Bob, in the vehicle next to her throws something at her car. Kim pulls over to check for damage. When she does, Bob also stops, gets out of his car, and starts yelling about how she cut him off. In addition to verbally taking his anger out on Kim, Bob also pulls out a gun and points it at her.

Because Bob has displayed a deadly weapon, Kim reasonably fears that she may be seriously injured or killed. As such, Bob's actions may be considered criminal menacing.

Although some people may think of criminal menacing as assault, they are two different crimes. Assault occurs when someone intends to cause another person harm and follows through with the act. Menacing, on the other hand, occurs when someone threatens to cause harm and, in doing so, makes the other person fear that they could follow through on that threat, but the act isn't completed.

New York's Three Degrees of Criminal Menacing

The level of charge and potential penalties a person faces depends on the circumstances.

If the individual placed the alleged victim in fear of harm by using a physical threat, they could be charged with third-degree criminal menacing. The offense is a class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to $500 in fines and up to 3 months' imprisonment.

There are instances when menacing elevates to a second-degree offense charged as a class A misdemeanor. These include when the alleged offender:

  • Displays a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument;
  • Repeatedly engages in certain conduct against or follows someone, making the other person fear harm; or
  • Commits the offense in violation of an order of protection

Second-degree criminal menacing is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 364 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

If the alleged offender was previously convicted of this crime, it is first-degree menacing, which is a Class E felony. A conviction may result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a person term of up to 4 years.

If you're facing criminal charges in New York or New Jersey, turn to the Law Offices of Iannuzzi and Iannuzzi for the representation you need. Our firm has provided defense to the accused for over 9 decades, and we have a renowned reputation in the legal community. To get started on your case, call us at (646) 956-2660 or contact us online today.