Misdemeanors and Felonies
Q. What is a felony?
A. A felony is a very serious crime. It means that you can be sentenced to a term of more than one year in State Prison.
Q. What is a misdemeanor?
A. A misdemeanor is best referred to as a minor crime. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is one year in the county jail.
Q. Is "DWI" a misdemeanor or felony in New York?
A. It depends. If this is the first time, it is a misdemeanor. If, however, you have been convicted of Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Intoxicated, per se within 10 years of your arrest, then the new charge is a felony.
Q. One more time, how is that measured?
A. Ten years from the date you were convicted (generally the date you were sentenced) to the date of the second arrest.
Q. Will I go to State Prison if I am charged with a felony?
A. You could if you are convicted. This is why choosing a lawyer is so important. He or she must be prepared to raise each and every possible defense to the charge.
Q. Are there other misdemeanor and felony charges that I should know about?
A. There are many charges relating to injury and death that we will not be covering here. There are also charges relating to Aggravated Unlicensed Operation.
Q. What is Aggravated Unlicensed Operation?
A. Briefly, it is operation of a motor vehicle when your license to do so has been suspended or revoked.
Q. Is the reason why it is suspended or revoked important?
A. Yes. If it is revoked or suspended for a conviction for an alcohol related operating offense or for refusing to take a breath, blood or urine test, it is at least Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the second degree which is a misdemeanor.
Q. You say "at least," can it get worse?
A. Yes, much worse. If you are revoked or suspended for an alcohol related operating offense or refusing to take a breath, blood or urine test and you are convicted of Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired, you can also be convicted of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the first degree which is a felony and carries a sentence of 1 and 1/3 years to 4 years in State Prison.