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A number of readers noticed a weird quirk in state law in a sex case I wrote about the other day.

A teen from Vermont was charged with having sex with a local underage girl, and sharing pornographic material with her.

Under state Penal Law, the sex act was a misdemeanor, but sending her nude photos justified a felony charge. Does that make sense?

There are a number of other parts of Penal Law that I have noticed over the years that seem backwards or outdated.

You can point a loaded gun at a person, and it typically warrants a misdemeanor menacing charge. But scratch someone's car and cause more than $250 in damage, and it's felony criminal mischief. You can't walk into a body shop for less than $250 these days.

Punch someone in the face but leave them uninjured, it's non-criminal harassment. Call someone on the phone or text them and threaten to punch them in the face, it's often misdemeanor aggravated harassment.

With all the legislators we have in New York, and as much scrutiny as state laws get, it's kind of surprising that these quirks languish. The menacing charge in particular makes me wonder; pointing a loaded gun at someone should clearly be a felony.

-- Don Lehman



Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on

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