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Misdemeanor Offenses in New York

Crimes and punishments in New York are set out in state statutes. Every criminal offense is written in state law, describing what the elements of the crime are which must be present for conviction, and designating the offense as a particular type of misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor is an offense other than a traffic infraction for which a jail sentence over 15 days and up to one year may be imposed on a defendant, in addition to fines and possible probation.

Classes of Misdemeanors under New York State Law

Misdemeanors are grouped into three classes: Class A, Class B, and Unclassified. A defendant who is found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor may be sentenced to up to one year in prison or three years of probation. A defendant may also be fined up to $1,000 or twice the amount of the defendant’s gain from the misdemeanor crime. A defendant who is found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor may be sentenced up to three months in prison or one year of probation. In addition, the defendant may be subject to a $500 fine or twice the amount of the gain from the crime. For an unclassified misdemeanor, a defendant may be subject to imprisonment between 16 days and one year.

Here are the misdemeanor classes in New York, along with the possible ranges of prison time and some examples of offenses which fall within each class:

Class A Misdemeanor: from 16 days to one year in prison or three years probation

  • Criminal solicitation (fourth degree)
  • Assault (third degree)
  • Petit larceny
  • Menacing (second degree)
  • Stalking (third degree)
  • Forgery (third degree)
  • False Advertising
  • Identity Theft (third degree)
  • Hazing (first degree)
  • Criminal trespass (second degree)
  • Criminal retention of medical marijuana
  • Criminal diversion of medical marijuana (first degree)
  • Patronizing a prostitute (third degree)

Class B Misdemeanor: from 16 days to three months in prison or one year probation

  • Menacing (third degree)
  • Prostitution
  • Stalking (fourth degree)
  • Unlawful duplication of computer related material (second degree)
  • Criminal trespass (third degree)
  • Criminal diversion of medical marijuana (second degree)
  • Issuing a bad check
  • Unlawful judgment collection practices
  • Harassment (first degree)
  • Public lewdness
  • Criminal Nuisance (second degree)

Sentencing in a Misdemeanor Conviction

Upon conviction of a misdemeanor crime, the judge will engage in determinate sentencing. This means the judge will sentence a defendant to a specific sentence, rather than a range of time with a minimum and a maximum sentence. The judge may not sentence a defendant to more than one year for a Class A misdemeanor or more than three months for a Class B misdemeanor. The judge will also have the option to sentence a defendant convicted of a misdemeanor to no jail time and to instead impose probation. Generally, there are no minimum sentences for misdemeanors.

Get Help with Misdemeanor Charges from Experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorneys

For any alleged crime, the prosecutor normally has discretion on what charges to file, based on what the state thinks it can prove. For example, if a defendant is arrested for stalking, the prosecutor may decide to charge the defendant with stalking in the first degree (class D felony), stalking in the second degree (class E felony), stalking in the third degree (class A misdemeanor) or stalking in the fourth degree (class B misdemeanor). These different charges bring with them greatly varying sentences and other consequences (for example, a felony conviction may prevent a defendant from certain types of employment in the future and the loss of certain legal rights). This is one reason getting an experienced criminal defense attorney on your case as soon as possible is so important. Your lawyer can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecutor’s case and sometimes influence what charges are filed. If a lower class of misdemeanor can be charged, or if a misdemeanor can be charged instead of a felony, this greatly impacts what has to be proven or defended against, along with the possible consequences in the case of a conviction.

If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor charge, or any criminal offense in Orange County or the Hudson Valley, contact Dupée & Monroe, P.C. in Goshen for sound legal advice and strong, effective representation from knowledgeable and experienced New York criminal defense attorneys.

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