Felonies vs. Misdemeanors in New York

  • May 11 2017

New York, like most states, divides crimes into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors and felonies carry varying penalties, with consequences ranging from a few months to several years in prison. Below is an overview of the differences between these two categories.


Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies, and this is reflected by their accompanying penalties and sentencing structures. While felony convictions can result in lengthy prison sentences, misdemeanors are punishable by 15 days to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Misdemeanors in New York are divided into 3 classes: Class A misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanors, and unclassified misdemeanors.

  • Class A misdemeanors: Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to 1 year in jail. Examples of Class A misdemeanors include forcible touching, sexual misconduct, and assault in the 3rd
  • Class B misdemeanors: Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 90 days in jail. Examples of Class B misdemeanors include prostitution, harassment in the 1st degree, and unlawful assembly.
  • Unclassified misdemeanors: The penalties associated with unclassified misdemeanors are detailed in the specific laws defining each unclassified offense. Examples of unclassified misdemeanors include aggravated unlicensed driving and reckless driving.


Felonies are considered the most serious of all crimes in New York and are punishable by prison sentences in excess of 1 year. Felonies are divided into 5 classes: Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class E felonies.

  • Class A felonies: Class A felonies are punishable by up to life in prison. Examples of Class A felonies include murder in the 1st degree and arson in the 1st
  • Class B felonies: Class B felonies are punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Examples of Class B felonies include assault in the 1st degree and sex trafficking.
  • Class C felonies: Class C felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Examples of Class C felonies include aggravated criminal possession of a weapon and aggravated vehicular assault.
  • Class D felonies: Class D felonies are punishable by up to 7 years in prison. Examples of Class D felonies include reckless assault of a child and aggravated identity theft.
  • Class E felonies: Class E felonies are punishable by up to 4 years in prison. Examples of Class E felonies include defrauding the government and unlawfully concealing a will.

In addition to the sentences detailed above, felony convictions can result in the loss of voting rights and the ability to hold certain professional licenses and public positions. Also, both misdemeanor and felony convictions can negatively impact employment prospects, as many employers conduct criminal background checks during the hiring process.

As can be seen from the penalties above, criminal charges are not to be taken lightly, as a conviction can have harrowing consequences. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, it’s imperative that you engage the services of an experienced criminal law attorney in order to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Please contact us for a free consultation at (518) 462-5601.

Posted in: Criminal Defense, L.I.F.E. Group Blog


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