Felonies vs. Misdemeanors

For those of you who have been or are currently charged with a crime you might be wondering what is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in New York State.  The main distinction between the two lies with the penalty and the length of imprisonment.  In New York a crime is a misdemeanor if it is punishable by no more than a year in the county jail.  While a crime is a felony if it punishable by more than a year in a state prison.

Some crimes can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the offense or some aggravating characteristic.  For example, you could punch someone in the face causing an injury and be arrested for misdemeanor assault, but if you hit that same person over the head with a beer bottle causing an injury you could be arrested for felony assault based on the use of a weapon.  Another example would be larceny.  You would be charged with misdemeanor petit larceny if you steal property and the value of the property is less than $1000.00.  However if you steal property and the value of the property exceeds $1000.00 you will be charged with felony grand larceny.

The main similarity between a misdemeanor and a felony is that both are considered criminal convictions that will stay on your record indefinitely.  As of right now there is no expungement available in New York State.  So you could be convicted of a crime at the age of 19 and it will still be on your record 50 years later.  Further, a conviction of either crime can prevent you from owning a firearm or from working at schools or government agencies.

If you are facing criminal charges, whether it be a misdemeanor or a felony, you should speak with an experienced attorney.  An attorney can explain the penalties you could face if convicted of either crime.

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