While you may know the definition of the word “menacing,” you may not know what it means in a legal sense. According to the New York State Senate, menacing involves behaving in a threatening way towards someone else with the intention of putting them in fear of death or injury.
As with many other crimes, there are different degrees of menacing. The most serious of these is first-degree menacing, which is a class E felony. The least serious is third-degree menacing, which is a class B misdemeanor. Second-degree menacing does not rise to the level of a felony but it is a more serious misdemeanor than third-degree menacing.
Menacing involves a willful attempt to cause fear of physical harm in another person. To convict you of menacing, the court must prove that you acted with the intention of intimidating someone else.
The degree of menacing charges you can face depends partly on whether you already have a history of it on your record. For example, a past conviction for second-degree menacing can mean subsequent charges of first-degree menacing.
If the other person has an order of protection against you, what would otherwise be a charge of third-degree menacing automatically increases to second-degree.
You do not have to have been carrying or using a weapon to face a charge of menacing. However, a weapon could result in a more serious charge. For example, the display of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument can mean the difference between second-degree and third-degree menacing charges. It does not have to be an actual weapon if it is something that has the appearance of one.