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NY Penal Law § 120.30: Promoting a suicide attempt

June 27, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

NY Penal Law § 120.30: Promoting a suicide attempt

The topic of suicide is an emotional one indeed.  Moreover, the idea of helping someone to commit suicide is a controversial one. Many people are of the belief that aiding, encouraging, or advising someone to commit suicide is morally reprehensible. On the other hand, there are those who believe it is a difficult, yet personal issue and it is not so black and white. Regardless of whether you personally consider assisting someone in their own suicide to be morally right or wrong, under New York law it is illegal. It is a felony according to New York Penal Code 120.30 to intentionally assist another person in an attempt to commit suicide. Whether the suicide attempt is successful or not is irrelevant. It is only relevant that you helped someone in their attempt to commit suicide.


For Example

A man’s wife suffered from emotional problems for many years and had attempted suicide on a number of occasions. Some time has passed sinse her last attempt, but she had recently started to talk about suicide again. The woman and her husband drove out to a scenic overlook in a state park. The man got out of the car,  leaving his wife inside alone. The woman then put the car into drive and drove herself off the cliff. The woman did not survive the fall. Her husband  could be prosecuted for promoting a suicide attempt.  This charge would be valid because he knew what his wife’s intentions were, accompanied her to the site of the suicide, and did not attempt to stop her from committing it.


Offenses that are Related

Reckless endangerment in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 120.25

Reckless endangerment in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 120.20


Possible Defenses

In order for you to be convicted under the promoting a suicide attempt statute is necessary for the prosecutor to demonstrate that your actions in aiding the suicide or suicide attempt were intentional. If you can demonstrate that when you acted, you were unaware of the person’s intentions, then you did not have the key element of intention and should not be prosecuted for this crime.


The Sentence

The crime of promoting a suicide attempt is categorized as a class E felony. The maximum possible sentence for this offense is 4 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 do not have a prior felony conviction, there is a pretty good chance that your sentence may be reduced to a probation term of 5 years without any prison time. That said, you could also be ordered by a judge to pay a fine of up to $5,000.



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