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NY Penal Law § 120.18: Menacing a police officer or peace officer

June 27, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

NY Penal Law § 120.18: Menacing a police officer or peace officer

Menacing is an offense that involves doing something that puts another person in fear of being subjected to immediate physical injury. No such physical injury is necessary to be charged with menacing.  It is not even necessary that you come in physical contact with the other person.  That your threatening actions cause another person to have a reasonable fear of imminent physical injury or death is sufficient for this charge to stand. There is a specific law on the books to punish those who menace law enforcement officers using a deadly weapon. It is a class D felony under New York Penal Code § 120.18 to threaten a police officer who is carrying out his or her lawful duties. To be prosecuted for this charge, you must have displayed a deadly weapon such as a firearm or knife. Additionally, you must have been aware that the victim of the menacing was a police officer.


For Example

A uniformed police officer is responding to a report of a burglary in progress at somebody’s place of residence. The officer arrives just in time to witness a man fleeing from the home carrying a large duffle bag with him. The police officer identifies himself and then he orders the man to stop. The man points an unloaded gun in the officer’s direction. Among other possible charges, this man could be prosecuted for menacing a police officer or a peace officer due to the way he threatened the uniformed police officer (who also clearly identified himself) with a firearm. Under the statute, the fact that the gun was not loaded and therefore could not have harmed the officer is irrelevant .


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 first 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 the crime of menacing a police officer or peace officer, the prosecutor must demonstrate that you knew or should have been aware that the victim was a police officer or peace officer. If the officer was not in uniform and never clearly identified him or herself as an officer of the law, the prosecutor would have a tough time showing that you knew or should have known that the person was a police officer. On top of that, even if you did know that the person was a police officer, for this charge to stand, the officer must have been in the process of performing his or her lawful duty.



The crime of menacing a police officer or peace officer is a class D felony. The maximum possible sentence you could serve for this is 7 years in prison. Since it is also classified as a violent felony offense, the judge is obligated to impose a minimum sentence of 2 years in prison. The final determination on the length of your prison sentence will depend on factors such as your prior criminal record.  If you have one or more prior felony convictions on your record, your sentence will include at least 2-5 years behind bars.



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