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Felony is a crime, for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year can be imposed. A felony charge is more serious than a misdemeanor, which is a criminal charge when an accused faces potential punishment of imprisonment of up to 1 year. A felony charge in New York also carries potential collateral consequences in employment, immigration, professional licensing, housing, voting rights, and others.In New York State, felonies are divided into 5 different classes: Class A felony – sentence of imprisonment for up to life without parole Class B felony – sentence of imprisonment for up to 25 years Class C felony – sentence of imprisonment for up to 15 years Class D felony – sentence of imprisonment for up to 7 years Class E felony – sentence of imprisonment for up to 4 years. Felony charges are further classified as violent and non-violent, drug-related, and not. Based on that classification and on the existence of the defendant's prior felony conviction, the sentence may carry certain mandatory prison time. What are the examples of various felony charges and how they differentiate from misdemeanors? Let's analyze a charge of an Assault in the 3rd degree (PL §120.00(1)) which is a misdemeanor. Its elements are: intent to cause physical injury to another person and causing physical injury to such person or a third person. If certain additional elements are added, such assault offense may be qualified as 2nd-degree assault, which will become a Class "D" felony charge. For example, if during the commission of 3rd-degree misdemeanor assault, the defendant used a dangerous instrument or injury caused to the victim is a serious one or victim was a certain enumerated government official (e.g. police officer, prosecutor, MTA employee, etc. in the course of their official duties), then any of these additional elements will elevate misdemeanor assault in the 3rd degree into felony assault in the 2nd degree. The dangerous instrument mentioned above could be any object in the hands of the defendant that was used during an assault. So when a defendant while fighting with another person uses an item such as a bottle, knife, key, car, screwdriver, stick or any other item that can be considered a weapon during a fight, misdemeanor assault in the 3rd degree will be elevated into a felony assault charge and will become "D" felony assault, conviction of which carries a longer prison sentence and harsher consequences. So, when a person is charged with a felony and therefore faces a harsher punishment, this person is entitled to an extra "check" if these felonies charges were properly filed in the case. A person who is charged with a felony has an absolute right to have his case presented to a grand jury by the prosecutor. For the prosecution to continue with a felony charge, a grand jury must vote a true bill (meaning it must approve by majority vote) the felony charge and return an indictment (crime charging document). The decision to testify before a grand jury is a very important one. If the grand jury believes the accused, it may dismiss the case completely. Therefore, we take an accused's constitutional right very seriously. If we believe our client's recitation of facts is credible, we will use all our expertise, former prosecutorial experience, many years of experience, and a team approach to maximize the decision-making process on whether the client should testify before the grand jury. If the felony prosecution does not end in a plea bargain or some kind of dismissal, it will proceed to a jury trial. In a felony jury trial, the jury consists of 12 jurors and 4 alternates. Any verdict, guilty or not guilty, must be reached by a unanimous vote of the jurors on each count of the indictment. If you need assistance with a criminal defense or a second opinion about your current matter, please contact our firm.