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What Is Forcible Touching in New York?

Last updated on: November 15, 2022

By Lebedin Kofman LLP

According to a study by RAINN.org, 29% of all sexual assault cases in 2013 happened while the victim was in traveling or in public transit. Sexual assault is a very serious crime and officials have enacted legal solutions to prevent sexual assault in public transport. In 2015, New York legislators amended the law on forcible touching (Section 130.52) to criminalize forcible touching on public transportation specifically. 

The amendment is aimed to be a deterrent to people who would like to take advantage of the crowded spaces in public transportation like the subway, buses, etc. to commit inappropriate sexual acts. However, while the amendment can be reassuring for commuters, being wrongfully accused of sexual assault can have lasting implications on someone’s life. Call for a free consultation with an experienced Manhattan forcible touching attorney today. 

Lebedin Kofman Forcible Touching Charges Case Results

PEOPLE V. C:

Our Client was charged with Forcible touching and sex abuse in the third degree in Manhattan criminal court in New York County. These allegations stemmed from alleged observations by MTA officers while our client was riding the subway. Lebedin Kofman defended this case in criminal court and Russ Kofman took the case to trial securing a NOT GUILTY verdict and full dismissal of all charges for our client. Lebedin Kofman later sued the NYPD for false arrest and secured a settlement for our client compensating him for this false arrest and attorney fees. 

The criminal complaint read as follows: 

Detective of the Transit Division District 2, states as follows:

The defendant is charged as follows:

1 PL 130.52(1)

2 PL 130.52(2)

Forcible Touching (defendant # 1: 1 count) Forcible touching

(defendant #1: l count)

3 PL 130.55

Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree (defendant #1: 1 count)

The New York Penal Code Section 130.52 defines Forcible Touching as an act that involves intentionally, and without legitimate purpose, touching the sexual or intimate parts of another person with the intent of degrading or abusing the person, or for sexual gratification. 

Forcible touching includes squeezing, grabbing, or pinching. As well as touching or causing someone to touch one’s sexual and intimate parts, regardless of whether either party is clothed or not. 

If you are facing forcible touching charges, seeking the help of a  skilled New York City sex crimes attorney is important. A criminal attorney can help you understand your rights, protect your freedom, and build a strong legal defense strategy against your charges.

“Intentionally, and without legitimate purpose”

The state of New York estimates that over 4.3 million people ride the subway every day. During busy hours, it is understandable that the platforms and the subway cars can get very stifling. In a crowd, it can be hard to maneuver, and people might inevitably be squeezed into one another. In this situation, it is one’s civic responsibility to report any wrongdoing should a person take advantage of the crowded situation. 

However, allegations of forcible touching can have serious consequences for the accused. Aside from the humiliation, it is difficult to gauge how a crowd can act against a person in their midst accused of doing something unsavory. This is why the law specifically codes the phrase “intentionally, and without legitimate purpose”. It is important to be able to distinguish between innocent contact caused due to being confined in a tight space over malicious behavior aimed at sexual gratification.

As such, in cases of forcible touching, the following elements must be proven to have happened:

  • The date and time when the alleged instance of forcible touching occurred
  • That the defendant did the act intentionally, and without legitimate purpose other than to degrade or abuse the alleged victim or for the defendant’s sexual gratification
  • That the touching occurred without the consent of the alleged victim

It is also important to establish whether the following factors exist during the contact:

  • Consent – As defined by New York law
  • Intent – Establishing that the act was accidental and unintentional is crucial in building a defense against forcible touching

Other defenses against forcible touching are also possible depending on the circumstances of your case such as mistaken identity or the statute of limitations. Getting the help of an experienced forcible touching attorney is crucial to understanding your options under the law.

Penalties

Forcible touching is a serious offense, however, it is not a felony like other sex crimes. It is considered a Class A misdemeanor and as such, punishable with a prison sentence of up to one year. A defendant may also be required to do community service, and serve up to three years of probation or a combination of a prison sentence and probation. 

A first-offense conviction of forcible touching does not require being registered on the Sex Offender registry. However, Sex Offender registration may be mandatory if:

  • The victim is under the age of 18; or 
  • If the defendant has committed forcible touching in the past and was not convicted; or
  • If the defendant has been convicted of a similar crime in a different jurisdiction

Under the Sex Offender Registration Act, a person convicted of a crime that mandates registration would require the defendant to reveal the following information, among others:

  • Place of residence, 
  • Current and prior convictions that require their registration, 
  • Vehicle registration, 
  • Recent photographs 

In addition, those registered as Sex Offenders would need to constantly update this information on the state’s database. If a registered offender wants to relocate, they would also need to inform the state of their new address within 10 days of moving. Failure to comply with the requirements will result in being charged with a felony.

Consult An Experienced New York City Forcible Touching Attorney Today

A conviction for forcible touching can have long-lasting effects on your life. It is important to retain the services of a skilled Manhattan forcible touching attorney that can defend your rights and represent you aggressively.

At Lebedin Kofman LLP, we provide quality legal counsel and representation and put a premium on helping our clients understand their rights and options. Contact us today at 646-663-4430 to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our New York City forcible touching and criminal defense attorneys.

Criminal Defense

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