After someone has been arrested in New York City, one of the first things they discuss with a criminal defense attorney are the sentencing possibilities they face if convicted on the charge. Unfortunately, answers to these types of questions are not always as clear as everyone would like them to be.
New York sentencing guidelines include too many complications and exceptions for anyone – a cop, defense lawyer or prosecutor – to say with certainty what lies ahead after an arrest. That said, it is certainly possible to get a sense of what punishments are possible after being accused of a felony in New York.
To get an idea of sentencing possibilities in your situation, first answer these three questions: how is the alleged crime classified? Is the crime considered violent or non-violent? Do you have any prior convictions – and if so, did any involve violent crimes?
Crime classification is crucial. In New York, there are five classes: A, B, C, D and E felonies, with A being the most serious and E the least serious. Here are some of the crimes included in each class:
- A: first-degree murder
- B: first-degree robbery
- C: second-degree possession of a weapon
- D: first-degree sexual abuse
- E: fourth-degree grand larceny
There are, of course, hundreds of additional crimes that fall into one of those five categories. After determining in which class of crime an accusation falls, identify whether or not you’re being accused of a violent or non-violent crime. The difference here is usually obvious, but there are some oddities, including second-degree burglary which is classified as a violent crime.
Lastly, your prior record plays an important role in figuring out what penalties you might face. Defendants with past felony convictions for violent crimes face much harsher potential penalties than those who have no record or whose past violations were classified as non-violent.
Speak with an attorney experienced in effective criminal defense to learn more about your legal options and the sentencing possibilities in your situation.