Like many states, New York divides its crimes into two types: felonies and misdemeanors. New York goes further and divides each of these into three levels of felonies and misdemeanors, with each getting different general punishments and treatment in the criminal justice system. Class A felonies are the worst class of crime and carry the highest penalties in New York State.
If you have been charged with a Class A felony in New York, it is important to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you challenge evidence, get charges dropped or reduced, or beat the case at trial. The Queens criminal defense attorneys at Sullivan and Galleshaw help clients throughout New York City and may be able to help you, too.
New York Class A Felony Examples
Class A is the highest degree of criminal offense in New York. Every class of crime is labeled either “felony” or “misdemeanor,” and has a “class” designation. Class designations for felonies are a letter of the alphabet, A through E, with E being the lightest type of felony and A being the worst.
Class A felonies are further broken down into Class A-I felonies and Class A-II felonies, where A-I is the worse class. These crimes are all some of the most heavily punished crimes in the state, regardless of whether they are Class A-I or A-II, and are always taken extremely seriously by police and prosecutors.
The following are Class A-I felonies in New York:
- Aggravated murder
- Arson in the first degree
- Conspiracy in the first degree
- Crime of terrorism
- Criminal possession of a chemical weapon or biological weapon in the first degree
- Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree
- Criminal use of a chemical weapon or biological weapon in the first degree
- Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree
- Kidnapping in the first degree
- Murder in the first degree
- Murder in the second degree
- Operating as a major trafficker
- Aggravated enterprise corruption
Basically, these crimes cover most of the most serious forms of murder, kidnapping, arson, drug sales, and crimes involving terrorism or weapons of mass destruction. Class A-II felonies are very similar in scope, and include:
- Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree
- Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree
- Criminal use of a chemical weapon or biological weapon in the second degree
- Predatory sexual assault
- Predatory sexual assault against a child
All of these crimes have very specific requirements that the prosecutors must prove before they can convict you of these crimes. That means that your defense attorney has an opportunity, every step of the way, to challenge evidence, get evidence dropped, or get charges reduced. In any case, just because you were charged with these crimes does not mean that your conduct actually fits the accusations.
Punishments for Class A Felonies in New York State
Since these are the highest level of crime in New York, they also have the highest levels of punishment available. In any case, being convicted of any of these crimes could mean the end of your life as you know it: you could face decades in prison, or spend the rest of your life there.
It is important to note that parts of New York’s sentencing laws are set to expire or become effective in September, 2017 – so these are the current rules, but may change slightly later this year.
New York uses an “indeterminate” sentencing structure for its Class A felonies, except for drug trafficking offenses. This means that for most felonies in New York, the law sets maximum and minimum sentences. The sentence that a judge hands down must be somewhere within this range, but will also have its own maximum and minimum. The judge’s minimum sentence is how much, at the least, you must spend in prison before becoming eligible for parole. The maximum is the total amount of time you can stay in prison for that crime, after which they must release you.
What this means is that, although these sentences may sound severe, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you get a reduced sentence that more accurately fits your circumstances. Even if you are guilty, you might not need to suffer the maximum sentence.
For most Class A-I and A-II felonies in New York, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. In some for some crimes, this could even mean life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). LWOP means that you cannot be released early, even with good behavior. Luckily, many of the minimum sentences for Class A-I felonies are as low as 15 years, and for A-II felonies, they can be as low as three years, depending on the crime.
Queens, New York Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a Class A felony in New York, it is vital that you talk to a lawyer. Your freedom could depend on the strength of your representation, and your lawyer’s abilities before trial, at trial, and at sentencing. Call Sullivan and Galleshaw today for a free consultation on your felony case at (870) 730-0135.