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What Is Forcible Touching in New York?

Last updated on: March 20, 2024

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. 

If you are facing forcible touching charges, it is important to speak with a Manhattan sex crimes lawyer who can defend you against these charges. Contact Lebedin Kofman LLP today at (646) 663-4430 to schedule a complimentary consultation and to seek the help of one of our experienced Manhattan forcible touching attorneys.

Lebedin Kofman Forcible Touching Charges Case Results


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.

An Overview of New York Penal Law 130.52: The Crime of Forcible Touching

Forcible touching refers to intentionally touching someone’s private parts without any legitimate reason. Engaging in this kind of conduct is considered unacceptable and may lead to criminal charges if it is proven.

In New York, there are two laws that deal with Forcible touching. The first law, PL 130.52(1), states that intentionally touching someone’s private parts without any valid reason is a class “A” misdemeanor. The touch must be forceful, with the intention of degrading or abusing the victim or satisfying your own sexual desire.

The second law, PL 130.52(2), specifies that an individual is guilty of Forcible touching if they intentionally subject someone to sexual contact without any legitimate reason. This law places a restriction that applies only when the incident happens on a bus, train, or subway car authorized for operation in New York. The offender must intend to degrade or abuse the victim and have a sexual desire or need for sexual gratification.

Facing Forcible touching charges can have serious consequences, such as criminal charges and a permanent criminal record. If you face these accusations, seek help from a criminal defense lawyer to protect your legal rights.

It is important to note that Forcible touching does not require physical harm or injury to the victim. Even a single act of unwanted and non-consensual touching may lead to criminal charges. It is important to respect other people’s boundaries and get their consent before engaging in any sexual behavior.

“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. 

Manhattan forcible touching lawyer

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.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Forcible Touching In NY?

Understanding the statute of limitations for forcible touching in New York is critical for both the accused and the victim. The statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum period within which legal proceedings may be initiated. In the context of forcible touching in New York State, the statute of limitations is a critical aspect that can significantly impact the course of justice.

According to Section 30.10 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law, the statute of limitations for forcible touching crimes is two years. This means that prosecutors have a two-year window from the date of the incident to bring charges against the accused individual. If the prosecution fails to act within this period, they are generally prohibited from pursuing the case thereafter.

However, there are exceptions to this rule, particularly when the victim is a minor. In instances where the individual alleging forcible touching was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, the countdown for the statute of limitations does not begin until the victim reaches the age of 18 or until the incident is reported to law enforcement, whichever occurs first. This extension provides additional protection for minors and ensures they have the opportunity to seek justice upon reaching adulthood or after the crime has been reported.

It is essential for anyone involved in such a case to be aware of this time frame. For those accused, it highlights a critical aspect of the defense strategy—if charges are brought after the statute of limitations has expired, the defendant can move to have the case dismissed.

In any circumstance, consulting with an experienced Manhattan forcible touching attorney is imperative. Lebedin Kofman LLP can provide crucial guidance and defend the rights of clients facing such serious allegations.


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.

Aspect of New York Penal Law 130.52: Forcible Touching Details
Definition of Forcible Touching Intentionally touching someone’s private parts without a valid reason.
Types of Conduct Covered by the Law PL 130.52(1): Forcefully touching private parts to degrade, abuse, or satisfy sexual desire, classified as a class “A” misdemeanor. PL 130.52(2): Intentionally subjecting someone to sexual contact without valid reason on a New York bus, train, or subway car, intending to degrade, abuse, and satisfy sexual desire.
Criminal Consequences Forcible touching charges can result in criminal penalties and a permanent criminal record.
Importance of Legal Representation If facing such charges, seeking legal help from a criminal defense lawyer is crucial to protect your rights.
Lack of Physical Harm Requirement Forcible touching charges do not require physical harm; even non-consensual, unwanted touching can lead to charges.

Can You Go To Jail For Touching Someone Inappropriately?

According to the New York Penal Code, an act of forcible touching is committed when you intentionally touch another person’s sexual or intimate parts without a valid reason or with the intention of gaining sexual gratification. Forcible touching is classified as a sexual offense. Unlike more serious violations like rape or criminal sexual abuse, forcible touching is not categorized as a felony. Instead, it is considered a class A misdemeanor.

If the court finds you guilty of forcible touching, you could potentially face a maximum jail term of one year. There is also the possibility of community service and a probation period of three years—a combination of jail time and probation. Although the potential prison sentence is relatively short, being found guilty of such an offense will have enduring and harmful effects on your future. It will lead to a criminal record and your inclusion in the list of registered sex offenders. Furthermore, due to its classification as a sex crime, even being accused of forcible touching can be not only embarrassing but also damaging to your personal and professional relationships.

If you’re facing legal concerns regarding inappropriate physical contact, it’s crucial to understand your rights and seek guidance. At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our Manhattan forcible touching attorneys can provide the knowledge and support needed to navigate this complex legal landscape. From meticulously analyzing evidence to building a robust defense, we can safeguard your rights and ensure a fair trial. Contact us to schedule a confidential consultation and achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.

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.

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