Are Mere Words Uttered In Anger and Annoyance Enough to Be Considered Harassment ?
In People v. Todaro (26 NY2d 325 ), the Court held that mere words uttered in anger and annoyance are not enough to be considered harassment under the statute.
More is necessary to confirm the defendant's criminal nature of the charged act.
Merely because a person behaves in an immature, immoderate, rude, or patronizing manner which annoys another person is not enough to cause the conduct to suffer criminal sanctions. (People v. Morgenstern, supra.)
As required by statute, a defendant must manifest an intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm. (People v. Todaro, supra.)
Something more must be established than that a person, angered or annoyed, expressed his anger or annoyance in terms of apparent bravado, particularly in the absence of proof of any further words or acts tending to confirm the criminal nature of the act charged. (People v. Price, 178 Misc 2d 778 [Crim Ct, NY County 1998].)
In People v. Rivera (144 Misc 2d 565 [Crim Ct, NY County 1989]), defendants yelled to complainants "Nigger Bitches, we should take your earrings," and chased them across the street into a building.
The statement, followed by the act of chasing the complainants, is sufficiently threatening to support the charges. the meaning of the words should be considered in light of the entire incident.
There was something more than mere speech.
There was a threat of force.
There was no such threat in the within case.
In People v. Malausky (127 Misc 2d 84 [Rochester City Ct 1985]), the court held that merely reciting in the accusatory instrument the words "thereby evincing an intent to annoy, harass, or alarm," while necessary to the effective nature of the instrument, was not sufficient to establish intent to harass.
That facts alleged may describe annoying behavior is not enough to support prosecution of a harassment charge.
Merely because a person behaves in an immature, immoderate, rude, or patronizing manner which annoys another is not enough to cause the actor to suffer criminal sanctions.
Evidentiary facts supporting the intent element must be alleged, and there are none in the present case.