New York Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences

by ECL Writer
New York Felony Crimes

Sentencing rules for felonies in New York are difficult. The type of offense and the defendant’s prior criminal record are just two of the many variables that affect prison terms and other punishments. A felony in New York, like in the majority of states, is any offense that could result in a term of more than a year in jail. In New York, a misdemeanor is any crime that carries a potential sentence of more than 15 days but less than a year in jail.

Like many other states, New York law outlines sentencing recommendations for various felonies (ranging from Class E, the least serious, to Class A-I, the most serious). The sentencing guidelines, however, may also take into account a number of additional variables, such as the type of crime, the offender’s prior criminal history, and occasionally the specifics of the current offense. They do not just rely on these categories.

In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com gives a general overview of how sentencing works, the different kinds of felony sentences, and the main factors that affect how long a convicted felon might spend in prison.

New York’s Rules for Felony Prison Sentences

In New York, prison terms for felonies often range from indefinite to determinate sentences. However, some criminals may receive a life sentence without the chance of release.

Indeterminate Prison Sentences: Ranges for Different Felony Classes

Minimum and maximum jail terms, such as three to seven years or 25 years to life, are included in indeterminate sentences. After serving the required amount of time, inmates can be considered for parole release. They won’t serve longer than the maximum period if parole is denied.

Except for some violent felonies, drug offenses, and sex crimes, most felonies will carry indefinite prison sentences (as discussed below). Generally speaking, the minimum and maximum terms must both be at least one year long. However, New York law also specifies the permitted minimum and maximum sentences for each category of felonies.

  • Class A-I: maximum term of life in prison, with a minimum term between 15 and 25 years (or longer for certain charges of murder or attempted murder)
  • Class A-II: maximum life sentence, with a minimum between three years and eight years plus four months (or longer for predatory sexual assault)
  • Class B: maximum up to 25 years, with a minimum of no less than one year and no more than a third of the maximum term
  • Class C: maximum up to 15 years, with a minimum between one year and one-third of the maximum
  • Class D: maximum up to seven years, with a minimum between one year and one-third of the maximum; and
  • Class E: maximum up to four years, with a minimum between one year and one-third of the maximum.

The judge may choose to impose a fixed sentence of one year or less instead of an indeterminate sentence when a defendant is found guilty of a class D or E felony (and hasn’t already served time for a prior felony within the previous ten years), if the nature and circumstances of the crime, as well as the defendant’s background and character, warrant it.

If the defendant has received a sentence for another felony within the last ten years, the minimum and maximum terms for indeterminate sentences are increased. Additionally, there are particular guidelines for individuals who have two or more prior felony convictions.

Determinate Sentences for Violent Felonies, Drug Felonies, and Sex Offenses

Determined sentences require the convicted party to serve a specific amount of time behind bars. After completing the stipulated prison term, New York law additionally mandates an additional period of post-release supervision. For specific offenses, such as some violent felonies, drug felonies, and sex felonies, courts in New York must use determinate penalties (including certain felonies like assault or homicide that were committed for sexual gratification). According to the felony classification, the law specifies the ranges of permissible prison terms and post-release supervision for certain kinds of offenses. When a person had a prior felony record, especially if it was a violent criminal conviction, the sentence ranges are increased.

For the purposes of the sentencing guidelines, some crimes that unmistakably include violence (such as murder) are not regarded as “violent felony offenses,” and some crimes that do not (such as the possession of 10 or more firearms) are. What crimes are currently included by the law’s sentencing guidelines for violent felonies will determine the outcome. (N.Y. Penal Law §§ 70.00(6), 70.02, 70.45, 70.70, 70.71, 70.80 (2019).)

Prison Sentences of Life Without Parole

Life without parole is exactly what it says—the offender will never be eligible for parole or conditional release (for some major offenses like murder or terrorism). (N.Y. Penal Law § 70.0(5) (2019).)

Other Types of Penalties for Felonies

In addition to a prison sentence—or instead of prison in some cases—judges may impose some combination of other penalties for many felony convictions, including:

  • probation
  • conditional discharge
  • fines, and
  • restitution to the crime victims

As for prison sentences, New York law has a schedule of possible probation terms, period of conditional discharge, and fine amounts, according to the classification and nature of the crime. (N.Y. Penal Law §§ 60.01, 65.00, 65.05, 65.15, 80.00 (2019).)

Examples of Felonies by Class

Here are just a few examples of felonies, according to their classification under New York law:

  • Class A-I: first-degree arson, which results in serious injury or was done for financial profit
  • Class A-II: illegal possession of at least four ounces of narcotics
  • Class B: first-degree robbery
  • Class C: first-degree vehicular manslaughter, while driving drunk or with a suspended license
  • Class D: second-degree felony assault, which includes intentionally injuring someone with a deadly weapon; and
  • Class E: stealing a credit card or a car worth more than $100.

What You Need To Know

If you’re in New York and you’re being investigated for a felony, it’s crucial that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The state’s sentencing guidelines are very complicated, and if you’re found guilty, you might spend a significant amount of time in jail. A felony conviction can have substantial long-term repercussions, even after you have served your sentence. A competent criminal defense attorney can help you prepare the best defense possible given the circumstances, explain how the law applies to your situation, and, if necessary, work with you to negotiate a favorable plea agreement.

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