Rules and Guidelines
Crimes in the state of New York are classified as Felonies, Misdemeanors and Violations. Under New York penal law, a person’s criminal history is taken into consideration for purposes of sentencing.
Classifications of Crimes
Felonies are categorized by the seriousness and violent nature; they are graded from A to E.
A felonies carry the stiffest penalties, while E felonies are the least serious. Felonies are labeled violent or non-violent, depending on the nature of the crime.
For example, the crime of Assault in the First Degree is a B Violent felony, because an Assault is an inherently violent crime. Meanwhile, Grand Larceny in the First Degree is a B Non-Violent felony, because Grand Larceny is inherently non-violent.
A Felonies are divided into A-I and A-II felony categories. An A-I felony sentence range 15 years to life in prison. An A-II felony also has a maximum of life in prison.
A B felony has a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
A C felony has a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
A D felony has a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison.
An E felony has a maximum penalty of 4 years in prison.
Misdemeanors are categorized as “A” or “B.” A misdemeanors are more serious than B misdemeanors. Sentencing for misdemeanor crimes under New York law is more simple than for felony charges. Misdemeanors have well defined maximum penalties, regardless or any prior offenses.
A person convicted of an A misdemeanor faces a maximum of 1 year in jail, regardless of his or her previous criminal history.
A person convicted of a B misdemeanor may not be sentenced to more than 90 days in jail, regardless of his or her previous criminal history.
In the state of New York, Violations are not considered crimes. Although a Violation carries a potential 15-day jail sentence, in almost all cases the punishment will be that of a fine and/or community service.
New York Criminal Penalties
There is no strict or specific penalty for any criminal charge classifications, felony, or misdemeanor. There is a broad range and judges are given a wide discretion in handing out penalties and jail sentences.
Most New York Felony charges can result in a wide range of likely jail time, from 2 to 25 years, based on the circumstances of the case, prior offenses and criminal history.
Criminal History and Sentencing
Sentencing varies from defendant to defendant based on the individual’s previous criminal history, in particular felony convictions.
If the defendant has no prior felony convictions or no felony convictions within the last ten years, then that individual will be sentenced as if he/she has no priors. When determining the date of the previous felony conviction, the date of release from prison controls.
In other words, the ten-year period does not begin until the individual has been released from jail. Having “no priors” entitles the defendant to the lowest range of sentencing.
If a person has a previous non-violent felony conviction, that is less than 10 years old, he/she will be sentenced in the medium range.
If an individual has a previous violent felony conviction, that is less than 10 years old, he/she will be sentenced in the highest range.
Persistent Felony Offender
If an individual has two or more previous felony convictions then he/she may be considered a persistent felony offender and may be sentenced to life in prison.
The following individuals were all convicted of Criminal Use of a Firearm in the First Degree, which is a “B Violent” felony. The sentence range attached to each defendant results from his/her previous felony convictions.
1) John Smith – No Priors. Mr. Smith will be sentenced to any number of years in prison between 5 and 25.
2) Jane Scott – 1 prior non-violent felony conviction, which is 8 years old. Ms. Scott will be sentenced to any number of years in prison between 8 and 25.
3) James Stanley – 1 prior violent felony conviction, which is 4 years old. Mr. Stanley will be sentenced to any number of years in prison between 10 and 25.
4) Jennifer Stone – 2 prior felony convictions; one violent, one non-violent. Ms. Stone may be sentenced to life in prison.
If you are accused of a criminal offense in New York state, please call for a free consultation on the charges you are facing, sentencing, and to have your defense options evaluated by an experienced New York criminal attorney.