The Felony, Violent Felony, Misdemeanor and Petty Offenses

Westchester County Criminal Defense Attorney

In order to understand criminal law in New York and how to properly defend a criminal matter, it is necessary that the accused and the criminal defense lawyer both have a very good understanding of the different types of criminal offenses in New York. This will help the criminal defense lawyer explain the levels of offenses and the consequences of the offenses.

All criminal offenses in New York begin with the charges or the Accusatory Instrument. In New York, the Penal Law (criminal laws) and other laws differentiate criminal offenses according to the level of punishment. In New York criminal defense the three areas of offenses are Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Petty Offenses.

If you are facing criminal charges in New York, schedule a case review with our Westchester County criminal defense lawyers today!

Felony Charges in New York

A Felony is the most serious offense in New York State. It includes crimes from murder to grand larceny. The levels of felonies in New York range from A-1 felonies, the most serious, to Class "E" felonies. The punishment for a plea or conviction to a felony can range from fines, probation or a state prison sentence. A state prison sentence is served in a New York state facility "upstate" for a term of over one year.

Violent Felony Charge

A violent felony is defined by the penal law section 70.20(1). These are specific types of crimes but do not necessarily have to involve a violent act. With respect to sentencing, a violent felony offense will carry with it a determinate sentence (6 years) as opposed to an indeterminate sentence (2 to 6 years).

Misdemeanors Charges

Misdemeanor offenses in New York are divided into class "A" misdemeanors and class "B" misdemeanors. Class "A" misdemeanors are the more serious crimes (ie. criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, assault in the third degree) and carry with it a potential of up to one year in the local jail such as the county jail.

Unclassified Felony or Unclassified Misdemeanor

If a crime is not identified by the New York State Penal Law then the offense usually will be deemed "Unclassified". For example, the New York State DWI laws are under the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) and therefore are unclassified. An unclassified Felony is treated as a class "E" felony while an unclassified Misdemeanor is treated as a class "A" misdemeanor for sentencing purposes.

Petty Offenses

A petty offense is the least serious offenses in New York state and includes violations and traffic offenses. A conviction for a petty offense is not considered a criminal conviction. Punishment can include incarceration (15 days) in the local jail but can also include fines, restitution, state surcharges and/or community service. For example, disorderly conduct is a penal law petty offense as is harassment in the second degree.

When charged with a petty offense alone fingerprints and photographs will not be taken by the police department or state police and the accused is not entitled to a jury trial. Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) (VTL 1192.1) is another example of a petty offense or a violation. If the defendant is convicted of a petty offense the conviction is normally sealed. If the original charge was more serious and the case was reduced to a petty offense the matter will normally be sealed and any fingerprints or photographs will be destroyed.

Experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorney

In New York, it is important to understand the nature of the charge and any potential sentence as a result of a criminal conviction. The top criminal defense lawyers will review the charge with an accused to understand the nature and the type of criminal matter. It can be seen from the criminal law blog, a Felony is very different from a Petty Offense. All offenses have serious consequences for the accused or the convicted. Consequences include employment consequences or driving license suspensions. The best criminal defense lawyers will explain the offense and any of these collateral consequences.

If you are facing criminal charges in New York, schedule a consultation today to discuss your defense options!

New York Criminal Charges FAQ

Q: Can my case get dismissed?

A: If criminal charges will be dismissed depends on a number of factors most importantly the strength of the prosecution's case. With the New york 2020 Criminal Justice Reform, criminal defense lawyers are provided all evidence including witness names soon after an arraignment. A criminal defense attorney can analyze the evidence, your personal history, local prosecution policies regarding dismissals and advise if charges can or will be dismissed.

Q. Will I go to Jail?

A: The recent bail reform in New York makes it unlikely that you will have to spend time in jail while your case is pending. Jail time is mostly at the judge's discretion. When determining jail time a judge will consider the nature of the offense and the history of the offender. Upon review of the case, an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to determine the likelihood of jail time. Beware, some dishonest criminal defense attorneys will tell clients they will go to jail, when in fact the attorney knows that is unlikely to justify a fee or legal service.

Q. How long will a conviction stay on my record?

A. All criminal convictions will remain on file with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for life. However, after 10 years, in certain circumstances, an individual with a felony or misdemeanor criminal convictions can move the sentencing court to have the conviction sealed. Violation convictions such as harassment or disorderly conduct are sealed at the time an individual is sentenced.

Q. Can I represent myself?

A. Technically yes, but that is a horrible idea. Even if a criminal case seems easy an experienced criminal defense attorney will offer protection in the criminal court matter and can identify possible collateral consequences of an arrest and/or conviction. This includes consequences such as immigration, employment, DMV, federal student loans and potential later arrests.

Q. I have never been arrested. What happens now?

A. In Westchester County, New York the initial process includes filing a criminal complaint with the local criminal court and taking all of your pedigree information for the record. You are most likely to receive a desk appearance ticket to appear on a date and time before a judge. If you fail to appear a warrant can be issued for your arrest.

Q. How do I pick a criminal defense lawyer:

A. First, always trust your instincts when selecting a lawyer but you should also consider the following: The attorney must be responsive, have experience in criminal law, have a good reputation (check reviews and the local bar association), the attorney should know the basis off the top of their head and communicate the basics to you clearly, present you with a clear fee structure upfront, the attorney must be enthusiastic about you and your case, possess courtroom confidence and follow your direction.