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New York Forcible Touching Lawyer

Under the New York Penal Code you have committed forcible touching if you intentionally touch the sexual or intimate parts of another person for no legitimate reason or in order to receive sexual gratification. Touching can mean squeezing, grabbing, or pinching. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.52. Forcible touching is considered a sex crime. Unlike other sex crimes such as rape or criminal sexual abuse, forcible touching is not a felony, but it is a class A misdemeanor.

If you are convicted of forcible touching you could be sentenced to up to a year in jail. Even though the maximum possible sentence is a relatively short period in jail such a conviction will still have lasting, damaging consequences for your future as you will have a criminal record and will be placed on the sex offender registry. In addition, because forcible touching is a sex crime, even if you are not convicted the mere accusation is not only embarrassing, but can affect your professional and personal relationships. If you are arrested and charged with forcible touching, contact an experienced New York sex crimes lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates who will aggressively defend you against the charges. With decades of experience defending clients who have been charged with sex crimes and other serious crimes such as domestic violence and drug crimes. We will review the facts of your case and come up with a defense designed to produce the best results for your case.

Explanation of Forcible Touching

Forcible touching, sometimes referred to as groping, often occurs in crowded, public places such as in bars, on the subway, or on buses. The actions of the defendant in People v. Soto, 192 Misc.2d 161, 167 (Crim. Ct., NY County 2002) typify actions that can occur in a crowded, public place that may lead to a charge of forcible touching. In People v. Soto the defendant was charged with forcible touching after he placed his fingers on a woman's vagina through her clothing while they were riding the subway. Similarly, in People v. Parbhu, 191 Misc.2d 473 (2002), while standing on a subway platform the defendant rubbed his exposed penis against the buttock and thigh area of a woman. However, forcible touching can occur anywhere and often occurs in a private home. In such cases the person accused of forcible touching is often a relative of the victim or a friend of the victim's family. In People v. Smiley, 2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 5154 (2010) the person accused of forcible touching was the father of the victim, while in People v. Powell, 19 Misc.3d 364, 365 (Crim Ct, Kings County 2008), the accused was the victim's cousin. In both cases the incidents occurred in a private home.

Unlike other sex crimes such as sexual misconduct or rape, the crime of forcible touching does not necessarily involve penetration such as occurs with sexual intercourse, anal sexual conduct or oral sexual conduct. It is only necessary that you intentionally in some way touch another person's intimate parts without that person's consent and for no legitimate reason. Intentionally means that the touching was not accidental, but that you consciously or purposely touched the other person's intimate parts. Furthermore, skin to skin touching is not required. In People v. Taylor 2009 NY Slip Op 29000 (2009), the defendant was accused of using his penis to touch a 14-year old girl's vaginal area through her pulled up pants. Similarly, both in People v. Soto and in People v. Powell the defendants were charged with forcible touching after each touched his victim's vagina through her clothing.

A person's intimate parts can include the vagina, penis, breasts, or buttocks. In People v. Smiley the court held that a charge of forcible touching could be sustained based on an accusation of touching a 13-year-old girl's vagina, as well as grabbing her breasts, and squeezing her buttocks. In order to be charged with forcible touching it is sufficient if the touching occurs while the other person is clothed. In fact, in most cases of forcible touching the touching occurred while the victim was clothed. While the statute describes touching as "squeezing, grabbing, or pinching," courts have interpreted this language as merely being examples of conduct that the forcible touching charge was designed to address.

Lack of Consent

Like other sex crimes lack of consent is an element of the charge of forcible touching. Lack of consent can be shown by forcible compulsion, incapacity to consent, or lack of express or implied consent by the victim. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.05. That forcible touching can be shown by lack of express or implied consent of the victim is significant. To be charged with and convicted of forcible touching the prosecutor does not need to show that you exerted physical force or that you threatened the victim. It is also not necessary for the prosecutor to show that the victim suffered from an incapacity such that he or she did not have the ability to consent. It is sufficient that the victim testify that he or she did not in any way consent to the touching.

One notable New York forcible touching case is People v. Juarez, 65 N.Y.2d 379 (1985). In this case, the defendant was convicted of forcible touching after he allegedly grabbed the victim's buttocks without her consent. The defendant argued that the act was not "forcible" because it was not accompanied by physical violence, but the court held that the use of force can be physical or constructive and does not need to involve violence.


For forcible touching and other sex related crimes there are various defenses that can be used depending on the circumstances of the incident. For example, there may be issues related to consent. Since lack of consent is critical to a charge of forcible touching or any sex crime, it will be necessary for the prosecutor to prove that you did not have consent to touch the other person. If it can be shown that there was indeed consent, you will not be convicted of forcible touching. Intent must also be shown. If you touched the other person by accident, then you did not have the requisite intent and a charge of forcible touching will not be supported.

Sentencing and Other Consequences

In New York, forcible touching is considered a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if the victim is less than 13 years old, the offense is considered a Class E Felony, punishable by up to 4 years in prison. Additionally, if the defendant has a prior conviction for a sex crime, the sentence for a conviction of forcible touching can be increased. Sentencing for forcible touching, as with all crimes, is dependent on the specific circumstances of each case and the discretion of the judge. It's important to note that a conviction for forcible touching can also result in additional consequences, such as sex offender registration under the New York Sex Offender Registration Act and restrictions on employment and housing opportunities.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The consequences of being charged or convicted of forcible touching or any sex crime are significant, impacting your personal and professional life. If you have been charged with forcible touching in New York, it's important to seek the advice of an experienced forcible touching attorney serving New York who can help you understand the charges against you, evaluate the evidence against you, and build a strong defense on your behalf. Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who are accused of sex crimes. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.