Criminal Defense Sex Crimes

Is Forcible Touching A Misdemeanor Or A Felony In New York?

Is Forcible Touching A Misdemeanor Or A Felony In New York
Edited by Saul Bienenfeld

Most Forcible Touching and Sexual Abuse crimes are misdemeanors. However, in some situations, these crimes are felonies. And, some Forcible Touching and Sexual Abuse crimes may trigger Sex Offender designation and require registration with the Sexual Offender Registry. 

Registry requirements are onerous, a few of which include:

  • Frequent reporting of residence;
  • Notification of new address within 10 days of moving; and
  • Updating photographs taken at the local police department

Failure to comply with registration requirements is itself a felony.

Forcible Touching in New York

Forcible Touching laws originated in New York in 2000, as part of the Sexual Assault Reform Act. Since early 2015, the crime has been designated Forcible Touching in the Second Degree.

Forcible Touching

A person commits Forcible Touching when he or she intentionally and for no legitimate purpose:

  • Forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person
  • For the purpose of:
    • Degrading or abusing such person; or
    • Gratifying the actor’s sexual desire

  • Touches or rubs his or her sexual or intimate body parts, clothed or unclothed
  • Against any body part of another person, clothed or unclothed
  • For the purpose of:
    • Gratifying sexual desire; or
    • Abusing or degrading such other person
  • While such person is a passenger on a bus, train or subway car authorized to operate in New York state or any of its political subdivisions

Forcible Touching, Penal Law Section 130.52, is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail. However, the opportunities for a plea agreement are more limited than in most misdemeanor cases. The District Attorney may not offer a non-criminal plea, even for a first offender. And, if some form of conditional discharge is offered, it will typically depend on completion of a mandated treatment program or sessions with a private therapist.


About the author

Saul Bienenfeld