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Violations, Misdemeanors, and Felonies in New York: What’s the Difference?

Whether you are charged with a violation, misdemeanor, or felony in New York, you face serious consequences if convicted. Possible penalties for these crimes include fines, jail time, and prison time. In addition, a criminal conviction can make it difficult to find work, obtain adequate housing, and receive approval for certain types of loans. In other words, violations, misdemeanors, and felonies are not to be taken lightly. Therefore, if you are charged with a violation, misdemeanor, or felony in New York, please contact an experienced New York criminal defense attorney as soon as possible for assistance. 


A violation is the least serious of the three offenses described above. A violation is punishable by up to 15 days in jail, court costs, orders of protection and includes offenses like:

  • Trespassing
  • Harassment
  • Disorderly conduct


A misdemeanor is an offense that is punishable by no more than one year in jail. Examples of misdemeanors include: 

  • Assault in the third degree (domestic violence)
  • Criminal mischief in the fourth degree
  • Petit larceny
  • Driving While Intoxicated
  • Aggravated Unlicensed Driving
  • Prostitution
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Possession of large amounts of marijuana

Misdemeanors in New York are classified as follows:

  • Class A misdemeanor – Punishable by a maximum of one year in jail or three years’ probation and a fine of up to $1,000 or double the amount of the defendant’s gain from the crime. 
  • Class B misdemeanor – Punishable by a maximum of three months in jail or one year of probation and a fine of up to $500 or twice the amount of the defendant’s gain from the crime. 
  • Unclassified misdemeanor – Punishable by between 15 days and one year in jail. 


A felony is a crime for which a sentence of one year or more may be imposed. New York categorizes felonies as class A-I, A-II, B, C, D, and E, with class A being the most serious and class E being the least serious. Felony penalties vary widely, ranging from probation to life imprisonment. In addition, a felony in New York may result in a fine not exceeding the higher of $5,000 or twice the amount of the defendant’s gain from the crime. Examples of felonies in New York include:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Burglary
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Robbery
  • Kidnapping 
  • Manslaughter
  • Grand Larceny
  • Identity Theft, Forgery and Other White-Collar Crimes

Contact our New York criminal defense attorneys 

If you or a loved one has been arrested or accused of a violation, misdemeanor, or felony, you need to act quickly to protect your rights. Depending on the charges, a conviction can result in a lengthy prison sentence and other consequences, including losing your eligibility for certain professional licenses and forfeiting your right to vote. In addition, a criminal record can interfere with your ability to obtain employment and housing. At Heiferman and Associates, PLLC, our experienced criminal defense attorneys provide aggressive and efficient legal representation to clients throughout New York City, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island and New Jersey. Backed by extensive experience and working knowledge of New York Penal Law, as well as New Jersey and Federal criminal laws we will fight to ensure that you receive the most effective defense possible. Please contact us immediately for a consultation.