Is Menacing Considered a Form of Assault in New York?

While you may have some idea of what an assault crime looks like, you not know what the term “menacing” means. In New York, you can face criminal charges for making verbal threats—even if you never made physical contact with the alleged victim. Depending on the specifics of the alleged incident, you could face a number of menacing charges, which are considered assaultive offenses under the state’s penal code. Let’s take a look at what menacing offenses are and what steps to take if you have been charged with these assaultive offenses in the New York area. 

The Legal Definition of Menacing in New York

According to New York state penal code section 120.15, menacing occurs when a person “intentionally places or attempts to place another person in fear of death, imminent serious physical injury or physical injury.” This definition is similar to assault, except that assault involves actual physical contact. Essentially, menacing in the third degree is verbally or nonverbally indicating your intention to cause harm to another person, even if you do not act on these threats. If you make such threats while displaying a deadly weapon, repeatedly engage in the course of conduct, or violate an order of protection, you could be charged with menacing in the second degree, which carries more significant consequences. Menacing in the first degree, the most serious menacing offense occurs when a person commits the crime of menacing in the second degree and has already been convicted of this same crime within the last ten years.

Heated Arguments Can Trigger Menacing Charges

It is easy to get carried away in the heat of an argument, and people can make threats that they do not intend to fulfill. Unfortunately, such statements can trigger criminal charges, even if you did not ever mean to cause physical harm to the other person. If the accuser decides to report the incident to the authorities, the situation can escalate quickly. Suddenly, a few empty words you said while in an intense emotional state are being used to build a criminal case against you. In menacing cases, the account of the accuser can be sufficient to secure a conviction. If you are found guilty, you could face jail time, a damaged reputation, along with other negative consequences.

Legal Counsel to Combat Menacing and Assault Charges in Queens

Cases involving menacing and assault crimes can be delicate, so it is essential that you contact a skilled criminal defense attorney right away to discuss your situation. Avoid “talking your way out of” being arrested; remember that any words you say, even if you are trying to tell the truth, can be twisted and used against you in court. Instead, wait until you have spoken with your attorney before you explain yourself to anyone else. Together, you and your lawyer will determine the best path forward to help you secure a favorable outcome.


If you are facing menacing or assault charges in Queens, contact the Law Office of Adrienne D. Edward, P.C. at (347) 997-3811 to discuss your options with a trusted New York criminal defense attorney.