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4 Key Differences Between a Misdemeanor and Felony Conviction in New York


In New York, crimes are divided into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors and felonies carry distinct consequences. It is crucial for anyone facing a misdemeanor or felony charge to understand the differences between a misdemeanor and a felony conviction. Below are four key differences between a misdemeanor and felony conviction in New York;

  1. Sentences

In New York, felonies carry harsher penalties than misdemeanors. Misdemeanors carry a maximum jail sentence of one year, while felonies can result in prison sentences of more than one year. Class A felonies, the most serious felonies in New York, can carry a prison sentence as high as 25 years to life. When it comes to fines, felonies usually result in higher fines than misdemeanors.

  1. Impact on Rights and Privileges

In New York, a felony conviction has more profound implications on a person’s rights and privileges than a misdemeanor conviction. For example, in New York, felons are barred from voting while they are incarcerated. However, voting rights are automatically restored upon release from prison. Felons may lose the right to serve on a jury and own firearms. A felony conviction can also restrict a person’s ability to obtain certain professional licenses and hold a public office. Misdemeanor convictions generally don’t lead to the loss of rights.

  1. Diminished Opportunities After Release

While a misdemeanor conviction can affect employment opportunities after release, a felony conviction can make it much more difficult to find employment. Felonies can make it harder to qualify for professional licenses in New York. Additionally, a felony conviction can make it much more difficult to find housing or get loans.

  1. Ability to Seal Prior Convictions

In New York, criminal records can be sealed. When a criminal record is sealed, it is hidden from the public. Both misdemeanors and felonies can be sealed in New York as long as certain requirements are met. However, it is generally easier to seal prior misdemeanor convictions than felony convictions. Because misdemeanors are considered less severe offenses, courts may be more inclined to grant sealing for these convictions.

If you are facing a felony charge in New York, it is vital that you keep the above-discussed differences in mind in case the prosecutor offers you a plea deal for a less serious crime. Accepting a plea deal can reduce your charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. This can significantly lessen the severity of your punishment, prevent you from losing certain rights, and prevent you from suffering diminished opportunities after release. However, you should not accept a plea deal without consulting an attorney. An attorney can help determine whether the plea deal is fair. They can help negotiate better terms and ensure your rights are protected. An attorney can assess the strength of the state’s case and advise whether it is best to proceed to trial and fight the charges against you. Simply put, consulting an attorney can ensure you make an informed decision.

Contact an NYC Criminal Attorney

If you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge in New York, contact the qualified NYC criminal defense attorney, Mark I. Cohen, for legal help.

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"... Mr. Cohen's effort... in everything he has done before the Court, is A-Plus... [R]ecently, in another case... [before me], the result he achieved for his client... was quite impressive." Honorable Kenneth M. Karas, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.


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