New York Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences

by ECL Writer
Penalties Of New York Theft Charge

A misdemeanor in the state of New York is any crime that carries a potential punishment of more than 15 days but no more than 364 days in jail. Class A (the more serious offenses) and class B are the two categories that most misdemeanors fall under. Violations, as opposed to felonies, are offenses with potential consequences of 15 days or less in jail (or just a fine). And like most states, New York classifies any crime that carries a sentence of more than a year in prison as a felony.

Even when any other legislation refers to a sentence of “one year” or “365 days,” New York modified the maximum jail for a misdemeanor from one year to 364 days in 2019. The legislature stated while passing the law that it was meant to shield immigrants from being arbitrarily deported if they had been found guilty of a crime that may result in a year-long term, regardless of the actual sentence they got or their unique circumstances. Any one-year term imposed before the law’s implementation date (April 12, 2019) will be regarded legally as a sentence of 364 days, and defendants may get a certificate of conviction from the criminal court that reflects this modification. The law also applies retroactively. (N.Y. Penal Law § 70.15(1-a) (2019).)

Misdemeanor Sentencing in New York

If the defendant is found guilty of a misdemeanor, the court may sentence them to a mixture of jail time, probation, and/or a fine. Restitution or reparation may also be an element of the sentence, according to the judge.

In accordance with the guidelines established for the various kinds of offenses, sentences jail or penalties must be for an established (fixed) length of time or amount:

  • Class A misdemeanors: up to 364 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine (or double the amount that the defendant gained from the crime), or
  • Class B misdemeanors: up to three months in jail and/or a $500 fine (or double the defendant’s gain).

Some misdemeanors (such as those in the state’s vehicle and traffic laws) are unclassified. When that’s the case, the specific law or ordinance will generally state the potential penalties. (N.Y. Penal Law §§ 60.01, 60.27, 70.13, 80.05 (2019).)

Probation Terms for Misdemeanors in New York

If the judge decides that incarceration is not essential for the protection of the public but the criminal need the kind of assistance that probation monitoring may offer, the defendant may get a probationary sentence. Additionally, New York law specifies the permissible probationary periods for misdemeanors, which include:

  • two or three years for most class A misdemeanors or for unclassified misdemeanors with an authorized sentence of more than three months
  • one year for other unclassified misdemeanors and for most class B misdemeanors, and
  • six years for class A misdemeanor sexual assault.


Examples of Misdemeanor Crimes by Classification in New York

Here is a brief list of crimes according to New York law’s classification.

Class A Misdemeanors

Examples of the most serious types of misdemeanors include:

  • theft of no more than $1,000 (known as “petit larceny” in New York)
  • accessing a computer or computer network without authorization
  • recklessly injuring someone (third-degree assault)
  • forcibly touching someone sexually, and
  • writing graffiti without the property owner’s permission.

(N.Y. Penal Law §§ 120.00, 130.52, 145.60 155.25, 156.06 (2019).)

Class B Misdemeanors

Less-serious (class B) misdemeanors include:

  • stalking that’s likely to make the victim afraid (fourth-degree stalking)
  • intentional and repeated harassment
  • public lewdness (exposing oneself)
  • setting off fireworks without a permit, and
  • first-degree loitering for the purpose of using illegal drugs.

(N.Y. Penal Law §§ 120.45, 240.25, 240.36, 245.00, 270.00 (2019).)

Unclassified Misdemeanors

Some common unclassified misdemeanors (and the accompanying potential penalties for first offenses) include:

  • driving with a suspended license, which carries a potential penalty of up to 30 days in jail and/or a $200-$500 fine
  • reckless driving, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a maximum $300 fine; and
  • driving while intoxicated, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a $500-$1,000 fine.

(N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law §§ 511, 1192, 1193, 1212,1801 (2019).)

What You Need To Know

It’s crucial to consult a lawyer as quickly as possible if you’re facing misdemeanor charges in New York. Only a skilled criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the local prosecutors and judges can objectively evaluate your case and advise you on what to do. You may jeopardize your capacity to defend yourself against any allegations if you talk to investigators or make any decisions regarding your case without first consulting a lawyer.

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