26 Jun 20

NY Penal Law § 120.09: Assault on a judge

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Last Updated on: 7th August 2023, 06:27 am

NY Penal Law § 120.09: Assault on a judge

The crime of assault entails using violence against another individual and, as a result, injuring that person. When an assault involves certain officials, such as judges, you will face a more serious assault charge.  In the event that you are convicted on such an egregious charge, you will face a harsher penalty than if you assaulted an individual who is not an official.  You will have committed the crime of assault on a judge under New York Penal Code § 120.09 if you intentionally cause serious physical injury to a judge and, by doing so, prevent the judge from carrying out his or her official duties. For the purposes of this offense, the title “judge” is defined as a judge of a court of record or a justice court. Some examples of justice courts are local town or village courts, traffic courts, or criminal courts.


An Example

In a criminal court proceeding, a judge sentenced a defendant to the maximum possible sentence for a stalking in the first degree charge. During the trial, the defendant’s mother, who was in the courtroom at the time of the sentencing, was observed as being visibly distraught. Before the judge could step down from the bench, the defendant’s mother ran up to him and she stabbed him in the arm with a pen. The judge’s arm started to bleed from the stab wound. Nevertheless, the judge did not require hospitalization. The mother’s reaction to her child’s sentencing would not be classified as an assault on a judge, because the judge did not sustain a serious injury. That said, the defendant’s mother would likely face other assault charges.


Offenses that are Related

Assault on a peace officer, police officer, fireman or emergency medical services professional: New York Penal Code § 120.08

Assault in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 120.05

Aggravated assault upon a police officer or a peace officer: New York Penal Code § 120.11


Possible Defenses

To be convicted of assault on a judge, the judge-victim must have sustained a serious physical injury as defined by the statute. If the resulting injury in the incident was minor, then a charge for assault on a judge would not be valid. A few examples of injuries that a court would be very likely to consider serious enough for this charge include a gunshot wound that damaged a major organ, a traumatic brain injury, or a knife wound that left a noticeable, permanent scar.


The Sentence

The crime of assault on a judge is categorized as a class C felony, and it is also considered to be a violent felony offense. If you get convicted, the maximum possible prison sentence you could face is 15 years. You will be sentenced to a minimum of 3 1/2 years in prison.  For this charge, a sentence of probation without time behind bars is not an option. Moreover, you may also be subject to paying a fine as well as restitution for your actions.