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Types of Criminal Cases

A person commits a crime when he or she does something that goes against the laws in the New York State Penal Code. There are three types of criminal cases: Violations, Misdemeanors and Felonies. Each one has different possible punishments. This is called Sentencing.


Violations

A violation, like trespassing or disorderly conduct, is not considered a crime. The most you can be punished for a violation is 15 days in jail.


Misdemeanors

A misdemeanor is more serious than a violation, but less serious than a felony. Examples of misdemeanors are prostitution and making graffiti. Misdemeanors are divided into 3 groups: Class A, Class B and Unclassified. The most you can be punished for a Class A misdemeanor is 1 year in jail. The most you can be punished for a Class B misdemeanor is 3 months in jail. The punishment for most Unclassified misdemeanors is 3 years of probation. But you can be punished for a DWI Unclassified misdemeanor up to one year in jail. See Sentencing to learn more about punishments.


Felonies

Felonies are the most serious crimes, like murder, rape and arson. If you are found guilty of a felony, you may be sent to jail for at least 1 year. The Judge may sentence you to less time in jail and give you probation for the rest of the time. Felonies are divided into different groups based on how serious the crime is: A-I or A-II, B, C, D, and E. The most you can be punished for a Class A-I or A-II felony is life imprisonment, unless it is a drug felony. The most you can be punished for a Class B felony is 25 years in jail. The most you can be punished for a Class C felony is 15 years in jail. The most you can be punished for a Class D felony is 7 years in jail. The most you can be punished for a Class E felony is 4 years in jail.

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