Facing a criminal misdemeanor charge in New York can be intimidating, especially for first-time offenders. Some may wrongly think that a misdemeanor charge is not serious and doesn’t require an attorney’s help.
While misdemeanor charges are not as severe as felony charges, misdemeanors can still come with serious consequences including jail time. Additionally, a conviction for a misdemeanor means having a permanent criminal record, which could negatively impact someone’s professional, family, and social life.
The criminal defense attorneys at CDH Law are all former prosecutors with decades of combined legal experience. We know the ins and outs of the Syracuse, New York criminal defense system. Our disciplined attorneys make it a priority to achieve the best possible outcome in our clients’ criminal defense cases. We take New York misdemeanor criminal charges seriously and fight hard to defend our clients.
Can I Go To Jail If Convicted of a Misdemeanor in New York?
While some may think that jail time is off the table when convicted of a misdemeanor, the opposite is true. Depending on the type of misdemeanor someone commits, that person can receive a jail sentence. A court cannot sentence you to over a year of jail time for a misdemeanor, however. Also, if you face multiple misdemeanor convictions at the same time, your sentence exposure may increase, depending on the circumstances.
What Are the Differences Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony Charge in New York?
The New York state penal law divides crimes into two broad categories, misdemeanors, and felonies. Misdemeanor crimes are thought of as less serious and generally come with less severe penalties than crimes that are considered felonies. The distinction between these two main categories of crimes comes down to the nature of the offense and the severity of the sentences.
Misdemeanors are crimes that are generally punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, while a crime that is punishable by more than a year of jail time or over $1,000 in fines is considered a felony. Misdemeanors are divided into the following 3 categories.
Class A Misdemeanors
Class A misdemeanors are the most severely punished misdemeanor. Someone convicted of a Class A misdemeanor may spend up to 1 year in jail. Examples of Class A misdemeanors include sexual misconduct, forcible touching, theft of services, petit larceny, and assault in the 3rd degree.
In addition to jail time, those people convicted of a Class A misdemeanor can also receive up to 3 years of probation, fines, state surcharges, suspension of a driver’s license, the imposition of an order of protection, community service, and a conditional discharge.
Class B Misdemeanors
A Class B misdemeanor is not as severe as a Class A misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by a jail sentence of up to 90 days, up to one year of probation, fines, an order of protection, a conditional discharge, and community service.
Unclassified misdemeanors entail a varying jail sentence depending on the offense committed. These types of misdemeanors are typically related to traffic and driving offenses. Each unclassified misdemeanor comes with a specific penalty as defined in the corresponding law. Examples of unclassified misdemeanors include driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, or driving with a suspended or revoked registration. Those convicted of an unclassified misdemeanor in New York can face up to a year of jail time. Those convicted also face up to 3 years of probation.
Common New York Misdemeanors
Some of the most common New York misdemeanor offenses include the following:
- Criminal possession of a controlled substance
- Resisting arrest
- Obstructing governmental administration
- False personation
- Criminal contempt
- Criminal mischief
- Petit larceny
- Assault in the third degree
- Criminal trespass
- Aggravated harassment
- Aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle
- Driving with a suspended or revoked registration
Why You Should Take Your Misdemeanor Charge Seriously
Many people who hear the word misdemeanor think it’s no big deal. Don’t make the mistake of falling into this way of thinking. Imagine having to quit your job to serve a year in jail. You’d have to face separation from your loved ones for a year. Not to mention, being in jail is not a pleasant experience. You would give up your freedom and all of the comforts of home.
After you serve a year-long sentence, you’d leave jail with a criminal record. Many people who leave jail do not have work lined up afterward. If a court convicted you of driving while under the influence of alcohol, you will likely have to manage with a suspended license, making it difficult to get to and from work. All of these factors compound to make your daily life difficult. Add to them the stigma that comes with having a criminal record.
Many employers conduct legal background checks and will discover the criminal misdemeanor conviction on your permanent record. If you’re in college, a conviction could result in a suspension or expulsion. A misdemeanor conviction could cause a broad spectrum of negative consequences for your professional and personal life.
Contact Our Central New York & Syracuse Misdemeanor Defense Attorneys
The Syracuse misdemeanor attorneys at CDH Law have years of experience helping clients fight criminal charges. Whether you live in Syracuse or another part of Onondaga County in Central New York, our attorneys are well suited to represent you assertively. When clients walk into our law firm, we always treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve. No matter how severe your criminal record or criminal charge is, we assume you are innocent until proven guilty.
At CDH Law, we are available to our clients seven days a week. The responsiveness of our attorneys is extremely important. We gladly answer all of our client’s questions, so they feel as comfortable as possible about the legal process. Knowing that you could face up to a year in jail is a scary thought. The criminal justice process is overwhelming, especially if it is your first time encountering a criminal charge.
Our Syracuse-based attorneys specialize in fighting New York misdemeanor charges. Perhaps you’re facing a charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, petit larceny, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, aggravated harassment, or any other misdemeanor. If so, you need the skilled CDH criminal defense attorneys on your side. If you’re in the central New York area, don’t delay, contact CDH Law to schedule your initial consultation today.