Serious felonies may have misdemeanor charges as part of the statutory scheme. For instance assault causing severe bodily injury is a felony, but simple assault which leaves no lasting injury is a misdemeanor. Likewise, rape is a felony, but lascivious acts are a misdemeanor therefore it is imperative that soon as you have been arrested or even questioned about involvement in a crime you remember two important things:


Misdemeanors are divided into three categories, A, B, and unclassified. Unclassified misdemeanors are offenses defined outside the Penal Law in sections such as the Vehicle & Traffic Law.

The maximum sentence for a Class A misdemeanor is one year in jail. The maximum sentence for a Class B misdemeanor is 90 days in jail. A misdemeanor conviction may elevate future charges from misdemeanors to felonies. Charges for misdemeanor offenses are brought in a written accusation or complaint filed in the local criminal court, which usually is a town or village justice court, a district court, New York City Criminal Court, or a city court that has criminal jurisdiction. All aspects of the prosecution of misdemeanors occur in the local criminal court.

Misdemeanors are less-serious crimes. They are generally punishable by a fine or incarceration in the county jail for less than one year. The prosecutor does not usually convene a grand jury to investigate and charge misdemeanor offenses, although such charges can be generated along with felonies. Most misdemeanors are charged by written indictment and in many jurisdictions, poor defendants are not entitled to a court-appointed lawyer. Often, misdemeanors are handled by special courts with abbreviated procedures. For instance, the defendant may have to request and pay a fee in order to get a jury trial. Misdemeanor traffic offenses may have pre-set penalties in the form of scheduled fines. The consequences for misdemeanor convictions are generally less severe than for felony convictions. A person with a misdemeanor crime on his record may still be able to serve on a jury, practice the professions, and vote.

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