Online New York Criminal Sentence Assistant
By Don Murray, Esq.
Almost since this website started in 1999, I have kept this page regarding sentencing in New York criminal cases. Although sentencing in criminal cases is always more complicated than any simple chart can show, I thought that having something up "to give people an idea" was better than nothing. With more and more adjustments to criminal sentencing in New York State, and more and more exceptions to long established rules, it is impossible to maintain a workable basic sentencing chart. There is no such thing anymore.
I think the "basic" chart I have had up on this site at this point confuses more than it helps people. More and more I have to tell people that the chart doesn't cover this situation or that situation.
Therefore, rather than continue to present a sentencing chart of my own, I have decided to provide links to an excellent and thorough treatment of sentencing in New York State that is maintained by a third party (Yonkers Police Department, actually).
The YPD resources are nicely presented for those who want to do a little research before speaking to a criminal defense lawyer, which is ultimately what you need to do in any situation where you need a reliable estimate of the sentencing exposure in a criminal case in New York State.
Keep in mind that the information is not meant to be a substitute for the opinion of a qualified New York criminal defense lawyer. It is always our recommendation that if you have a real criminal case to discuss your case with a qualified New York criminal defense lawyer or attorney.
Nevertheless, since a qualified New York criminal defense lawyer may not always be available to everyone at all times, using this guide provided by the YPD is better than hoping the answers to your questions will magically appear before you.
Keep in mind, however, that laws, especially sentencing laws, have a tendency to change. It is quite possible that the laws may change before the YPD web pages are updated.
The results of using the information from YPD should at best be considered an educated guess. Get a second opinion. Confirm what you find here with a live criminal defense attorney qualified in New York. You could even call us for that live opinion at 718-268-2171.
Some General Thoughts About New York Sentencing
As a general rule when thinking about sentencing in criminal cases in New York State, you should know that there are some key pieces of information that will help you figure it out.
You will need to know the Offense Level of the current offense charged, and the Criminal History of the accused.
Crimes (offenses) in New York are graded according to seriousness.
Also, there are TWO types of crimes in New York.
Felonies are more serious crimes, defined as offenses for which more than one year in prison is possible.
Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, defined as offenses for which no more than one year in jail is possible.
Felonies are graded from A to E. A is the most serious and E is the least. Keep in mind that that "least" serious felony can still send you to prison for 4 years.
Felonies are now also categorized as "violent", "non-violent", or "drug". Each of these classifications has consequences in terms of the sentences faced upon conviction.
Misdemeanors are graded as A, U, or B misdemeanors. A and U misdemeanors carry a a maximum of one year in jail. B misdemeanors carry a maximum of 90 days in jail.
When calculating felony sentences, the criminal history of the accused will make a huge difference.
Key to evaluating the criminal history will be to knowing whether the person is considered a "predicate" felon or a "persistent" felon. A predicate felon is a person who has a felony conviction within the last 10 years. Whether or not someone is a predicate felon is trickier than it sounds. A persistent felon is a person who has received two or more separate felony sentences, ever. Persistent status is also trickier than it seems.
These days, it will also be important to know whether or not the prior felony conviction (if any) were a violent or non-violent offense (as well as knowing whether the current charge is violent or non-violent). Whether or not a prior felony offense is violent or non-violent is also trickier than you might imagine as well. For example, a home burglary, where nobody is injured or threatened in any way is considered a "violent" offense for purposes of sentencing in New York.
Whether or not someone is a predicate or nor can make the difference between facing a minimum sentence of 10 years on conviction or 5 years on conviction.
The potential sentences, especially for violent offenses in New York, are frequently vastly higher than what most people imagine.
Here are some common felonies and potential sentences for FIRST ARREST defendants (people who have never been arrested EVER)
robbery in the first degree = 5 year mandatory minimum - 25 year maximum
robbery in the second degree = 3 1/2 year mandatory minimum - 15 year maximum
assault in the second degree = 2 year mandatory minimum - 7 year maximum
burglary in the second degree = 3 1/2 year mandatory minimum - 15 year maximum
criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree = 3 1/2 year mandatory minimum - 15 year maximum
New York State Criminal Sentencing Overview
New York City criminal defense lawyer Don Murray provides a general overview of New York state sentencing guidelines and how to calculate potential sentences in New York State criminal cases.
Call 718-268-2171 for more information about sentencing issues in New York or to schedule your free consultation with a New York criminal defense lawyer from Shalley & Murray.
Shalley & Murray (NYC Office)
80-02 Kew Gardens Road
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Shalley & Murray (Westchester Office)
344 Route 202
Somers, NY 10589