Articles Tagged with harassment

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Famous Hollywood actor Jonathan Majors was convicted today by a Manhattan jury of having previously assaulted his ex-girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, following almost two days of jury deliberations. Specifically, the jury concluded that Mr. Majors was guilty of reckless assault in violation of New York Penal Law Section 120.00 (Assault in the Third Degree, a Class A misdemeanor) and harassment in violation of Penal Law Section 240.26 (Harassment in the Second Degree). The first charge is a crime under N.Y. state law (the second is not – it is classified as a non-criminal offense) and carries with it a maximum penalty of one year in jail. The more serious charge – Assault in the Third Degree – stems from Mr. Majors allegedly causing substantial physical pain or a physical injury to Ms. Jabbari, and doing so recklessly, though not deliberately or intentionally.

The trial judge will now be responsible for sentencing Mr. Majors. The defense lawyers may ask that the trial court overturn the jury’s verdict, but those sorts of motions are rarely granted. Instead, the defense lawyers will need to concern themselves for now with persuading the judge to impose a non-jail sentence. The court could sentence Mr. Majors for as much as one year in jail, which he would have to serve at the notorious prison on Rikers Island. However, the court could instead impose a sentence of up to three years’ probation (which would restrict his ability to travel, even for work), or other conditions like anger management or counseling. The defense attorneys will likely propose some sort of counseling program with community service and beg the court to not sentence him to probation so that he can travel to filming locations without interruption or complication. Obviously, this conviction may ruin his Hollywood career, as certain projects have already been put on hold or suspended as producers awaited the outcome of this trial.

If one had to predict, one would not expect the court to impose a jail sentence in a reckless assault case. First, Mr. Majors has no criminal history, which tends to militate strongly against jail sentences in relatively minor cases. Furthermore, the injuries sustained by Mr. Jabbari appeared to be relatively minor on the spectrum of assault cases; certainly, many assault trials involve much more serious injuries resulting in hospitalizations and/or permanent disabilities. Mr. Majors is a prominent person and the court might want to make an example of him, but he is also potentially able to do something positive for the community, as well. So, I would predict some sort of combination of anger management and community service, along with an order of protection in favor of Ms. Jabbari. The big question really is whether Mr. Majors will be sentenced to a period of probation, which would be a huge hindrance for his career.

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Our attorneys have represented dozens of people arrested and/or given Desk Appearance Tickets for cases involving assault allegations. The recent disposition of actor Alec Baldwin’s (most recent) case provides an excellent example of what can happen in a straightforward assault case.

Mr. Baldwin was arrested in November after allegedly punching someone over a parking spot in Manhattan. Mr. Baldwin generally denied punching the other person though he admitted to pushing him. Baldwin was actually given a Desk Appearance Ticket and eventually charged with Attempted Assault in the Third Degree (Penal Law 110/120.00), a Class B misdemeanor, and Harassment in the Second Degree (Penal Law 240.26), a violation. Prosecutors reviewed video surveillance footage, spoke to witnesses, and considered the complainant’s medical records before ultimately making a plea bargain offer to Mr. Baldwin. Under the terms of that deal, which Mr. Baldwin accepted in January 2019, Mr. Baldwin pleaded guilty to Harassment in the Second Degree and will undergo a short anger management program.

By pleading guilty, Mr. Baldwin was convicted of Harassment in the Second Degree. However, this conviction is not a “crime” under New York state law, it is a violation and/or criminal offense. As such, in response to the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime,” Mr. Baldwin could answer “no”.  Also, upon completing this short anger management course (typically completed within one day), Mr. Baldwin’s records will be sealed to the public after one year. The most important benefit to this deal, of course, is that Mr. Baldwin avoids the possibility of being convicted of the misdemeanor charge and receiving a possible (though unlikely in this case) sentence of jail.

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