In New York State there are 3 classifications
- violations (punishable up to 15 days in jail)
- misdemeanors (punishable up to a maximum of 1 year in jail)
- felonies (punishable by any state prison sentence of more than 1 year)
There is a significant difference between a violation and a misdemeanor. A violation
is not a criminal conviction and the record is generally sealed. If convicted of
a violation, you can honestly state that you have not been convicted of a crime
on a school or employment application. Misdemeanors and felonies are criminal
convictions that stay on your record for the rest of your life.
Criminal charges can range from the First Degree to Seventh Degree. The lower
the degree, the more serious the charge, for example, a First Degree charge is more
serious than a Third Degree charge. The same is true for the alphabetical letters
that accompany the charges, an “A” is the most serious charge. Felonies
run from A-1 through E, and misdemeanors are either A or B.
Hiring an experienced criminal attorney early in
the process can greatly increase your chances of beating the charges
altogether, or having the charges reduced and lowering your sentencing penalties, which also potentially eliminates the consequences associated with a criminal record.
Below are brief definitions of the most common charges in alphabetical order,
as well as some common legal terms.
ASSAULT :: Intentionally
causing physical injury to another person. Assault can be either a felony or a misdemeanor
depending on whether (and what kind of) a weapon was used and how badly the victim
BURGLARY :: Entering, or
unlawfully remaining, in a building with the intent to commit a crime inside. The
intent to commit the crime must exist at the time of entry but it is not necessary
for any crime to actually be carried out. Burglary can be either a B, C or D felony
depending on whether (and what kind of) a weapon was used and whether someone was
:: See Sexual Offenses Page
CRIMINAL CONTEMPT :: The
violation of a court order of protection -- either “no contact” or “no
offensive contact.” Criminal contempt can either be a misdemeanor or a felony
depending on the nature of the violation.
CRIMINAL MISCHIEF :: Criminal Mischief is intentionally damaging the property of another person. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of the property damaged.
CRIMINAL POSSESSION/SALE OF CONTROLLED
SUBSTANCES OR MARIJUANA :: See
CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF A WEAPON
DISORDERLY CONDUCT :: Disorderly
conduct encompasses a wide range of behavior considered offensive to public order.
Disorderly conduct is a violation and may be offered in a plea bargain as an alternative
to a misdemeanor.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED (DWI, DUI, DWAI)
FEDERAL CRIMES ::
See Federal Page
HARASSMENT :: Harassment
is communicating with a person in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm, placing
a person in reasonable fear of physical injury, or making a telephone call with
no purpose of legitimate communication. Harassment can be either a misdemeanor or
violation depending on the nature of the conduct.
HOMICIDE :: See
LARCENY :: Larceny is wrongfully
taking or withholding another person's property with the intent to permanently deprive
the owner of that property. Larceny can be either a felony (Grand) or misdemeanor
(Petit) depending on the value of what was stolen.
MANSLAUGHTER :: See Homicide Page
MENACING :: Menacing is
displaying a weapon or engaging in a behavior that intentionally places another
person in reasonable fear of physical injury or death. Menacing can be either a
felony or misdemeanor depending on whether the defendant has previously been convicted
of menacing within the last ten years.
MOLESTATION :: See Sexual Offenses Page
RAPE :: See Sexual Offenses Page
ROBBERY :: Robbery is stealing
with force. Force or intimidation is required and the property must have been taken
from the victim's person or some location reasonably close to the victim. Robbery
can be either a B, C or D felony depending on whether (and what kind of) a weapon
was used and if someone was injured.
WHITE COLLAR CRIME :: See
White Collar Crime Page