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Blogs from March, 2024

Misdemeanors vs. Felonies: What Are the Differences?


When it comes to breaking the law, there are two main types of offenses: misdemeanors and felonies. Understanding the distinctions between these two types of offenses is crucial for anyone navigating the legal system.

If you or a loved one are facing charges, seeking legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential. They can provide guidance, support, and representation to work towards protecting your rights and helping you navigate the complexities of the legal process effectively.

What Is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a less serious criminal offense compared to a felony. In New York State, misdemeanors usually result in lighter punishments like fines, probation, or less than a year in jail. With a good lawyer by your side, most first offense misdemeanors can be either dismissed or settled with a non-criminal conviction.

In many states, misdemeanors are categorized into different classes. In New York, for instance, there are three categories of misdemeanors.

Types of New York misdemeanors include:

  • Class A: This is the most severe type of misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of up to 1 year in jail.
  • Class B: The maximum punishment for a Class B misdemeanor is three months in jail.
  • Unclassified: For most Unclassified misdemeanors, the penalty is three years of probation. However, a Driving While Intoxicated Unclassified misdemeanor can lead to up to 1 year in jail as a punishment.

Here is a list of common misdemeanors:

  • Petty larceny: Stealing small items
  • Disorderly conduct: Causing disturbances in public
  • Simple assault: Minor physical altercation
  • Trespassing: Entering someone's property without permission
  • Drug possession: Possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use
  • DUI/DWI: Driving Under the Influence/Driving While Intoxicated

Even though misdemeanors are generally considered minor offenses, it is crucial to understand that they can still have significant consequences. Therefore, if you find yourself facing misdemeanor charges, it is highly advisable to promptly reach out to a qualified defense attorney.

They can thoroughly review your case, explain your rights, outline the potential penalties you might encounter, and provide you with invaluable guidance throughout the legal process.

What Is a Felony?

Felonies are serious criminal offenses that are more severe in nature compared to misdemeanors. They carry the potential for substantial consequences, including extended periods of incarceration, significant financial penalties, and the loss of specific rights, such as the right to vote or own firearms.

In addition, a felony conviction can have long-term implications on a person's life, affecting employment opportunities and personal freedoms.

In New York, felonies are divided into the following categories:

  • Class A-I or A-II: This type of felony comes with a maximum of life in prison. However, there are certain drug felonies where it is not possible to be sentenced to life, even if it is a Class A-I or A-II felony.
  • Class B: A Class B felony conviction comes with a maximum of 25 years of jail time.
  • Class C: A Class C felony conviction comes with a maximum of 15 years of jail time.
  • Class D: A Class D felony conviction comes with a maximum of 7 years of jail time.
  • Class E: A Class E felony conviction comes with a maximum of 4 years of jail time.

Here is a list of common felonies:

  • Burglary: Breaking into someone's home with intent to steal
  • Drug trafficking: Selling illegal drugs in large quantities
  • Aggravated assault: Serious physical harm or use of a deadly weapon
  • Robbery: Using force or threat to steal from someone
  • Homicide: Unlawfully causing someone's death
  • DUI/DWI: DUI/DWI that causes serious physical injury to someone else

Contact Laurence A. Silverman & Associates

Understanding the distinction between misdemeanors and felonies is crucial when facing criminal charges. In addition, it is essential to seek assistance from a skilled criminal defense attorney to navigate the legal process with skill and guidance.

With over 110 years of combined aggressive trial experience, our team at Laurence A. Silverman & Associates is dedicated to providing vigorous representation and tailored defense for those accused of crimes. When you choose to work with us, you receive individualized attention as if you are our sole client.

Give us a call today at (631) 816-2684 or send us a message online to request your free initial consultation.