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Understanding Criminal Charges in New York: A Comprehensive Guide 2024

Understanding Criminal Charges in New York: A Comprehensive Guide 2024

New York, as do most states, separates criminal charges into misdemeanors and felonies. A felony may carry a sentence of a year or more in prison, while a misdemeanor may carry up to one year in jail. Misdemeanors and felonies have further classifications that carry maximum sentencing depending on the severity of the offense. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you should find an effective New York criminal lawyer.

Although misdemeanors have less severe criminal penalties, the effect they can have on your life is still very serious. By working with a New York criminal attorney, you are more likely to see a favorable outcome to your criminal case.

Criminal Charges in New York

Misdemeanor Charges in New York

Misdemeanors are classified as Class A and Class B, and there are unclassified misdemeanors for certain traffic offenses. Misdemeanor sentences can also alter your life severely. You could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and/or pay hundreds in fines.

  • -Class A Misdemeanor: A Class A misdemeanor is the most severe of misdemeanor charges and can result in up to one year in jail. It can also result in two to three years of probation, fines, and community service. Class A misdemeanors include resisting arrest, petty larceny, third-degree assault, and seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance.
  • -Class B Misdemeanor: A Class B misdemeanor is less severe but can still result in up to 90 days in jail, as well as fines, community services, and probation. This includes charges such as first-degree harassment, prostitution, and fifth-degree marijuana possession.
  • -Unclassified Misdemeanor: These misdemeanors are listed throughout the state’s Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL), as well as specific criminal statutes. They are misdemeanors without a specific level and, therefore, have unique penalties associated with the charge. Charges include aggravated driving without a license and first-offense driving while intoxicated (DWI).

Although misdemeanors carry lesser sentences, they still give you a criminal record, which impacts your life regardless of the offense you were convicted of. A criminal record limits your housing, educational, and career opportunities. Depending on the misdemeanor, you could also face immigration consequences.

Felony Charges in New York

Felonies have five classifications and carry much more serious penalties. These are prosecuted via an indictment.

  • -Class A Felony: These are the most severe crimes and include both A-I and A-II felonies. A-I are the most serious. Class A felonies can result in up to life in prison. These charges include first-degree kidnapping, first and second-degree murder, and first-degree conspiracy.
  • -Class B Felony: Class B felonies carry five years to up to 25 years in prison. There are violent and non-violent Class B felonies, but they have the same maximum sentence. These charges include first-degree rape, third-degree sale of a controlled substance, first-degree burglary, and first-degree robbery.
  • -Class C Felony: A Class C violent felony results in 3 ½ to 15 years in prison. Non-violent Class C felonies result in up to 15 years in prison but could result in probation and no jail time. These include charges such as second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree grand larceny, and second-degree aggravated manslaughter.
  • -Class D Felony: A Class D felony has a maximum sentence of seven years, although a non-violent felony may result in no jail time, and a violent felony may have a minimum sentence of two years. Charges include second-degree assault, second-degree stalking, and third-degree robbery.
  • -Class E Felony: A Class E felony can result in up to four years in prison or probation and no jail. Charges include fourth-degree conspiracy, child abandonment, and fourth-degree aggravated sexual abuse.


Q: What Crimes Have No Statute of Limitations in New York?

A: Crimes that have no statute of limitations, or no time limit in which to file a criminal charge, include first-degree rape and any Class A felony, which includes:

  • -First-degree arson
  • -Operating as a major trafficker
  • -First-degree conspiracy
  • -First-degree kidnapping
  • -First and second-degree criminal use of a chemical or biological weapon
  • -First and second-degree murder
  • -Aggravated murder
  • -Terrorism
  • -Predatory sexual assault
  • -Predatory sexual assault against a minor

Both A-I and A-II felonies have no statute of limitations.

Q: What Are the Necessary Elements of a Crime in New York State?

A: In a criminal case, the defendant does not have the burden of proof. The state prosecution brings a criminal case against the defendant, and the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. In most criminal cases, to establish this burden of proof, the prosecution must prove:

  1. A criminal act or criminal conduct
  2. A criminal intent, or the individual’s state of mind
  3. Causation between the act and the effect

This may not apply to every criminal charge.

Q: What Is the Process of a Trial in New York?

A: A defendant has the right to a jury trial, but they can waive this right for a bench trial. After the jury is selected for a jury trial, the process of both trials is the same. Both the prosecution and the defense make their opening statements, provide their side of the case beginning with the prosecution, and provide their closing arguments. The trial ends with a verdict from the jury or the judge. An experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to guiding you through a criminal trial.

Q: What Is Attempt to Commit a Crime in New York?

A: The crime of attempting to commit a crime in New York is when an individual intends to commit a crime and engages in conduct that would lead to the act of that crime. The crime does not have to have been committed for an attempt to commit a crime to be charged.

This charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the crime that was intended. Attempting to commit certain A-I felonies is charged as an A-I felony, while others are charged as a Class B felony. An attempt to commit a Class B felony is charged as a Class C felony. An attempt to commit a misdemeanor is charged as a Class B misdemeanor.

Effective Criminal Defense in New York

If you are being charged with a crime, you need effective legal representation quickly. There are many factors that can alter how your unique case is charged. Contact the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, today to see how we can defend your rights and your future.

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