What are the Main Differences Between Misdemeanor and Felony Charges?
The most basic definition of the difference between a misdemeanor, and a felony, is the amount of jail time. In New York, a misdemeanor is a crime where the maximum sentence is one year, or less, and a felony is any crime where jail time is more than a year served. That is the basic difference, the amount of jail time. You can serve a misdemeanor maximum of a year, but functionally they are worlds apart. Therefore, with a misdemeanor versus a felony conviction, there are different post-conviction ramifications. Felony convictions commonly have an effect on voting rights, sometimes there are different immigration ramifications for a misdemeanor, or a felony conviction. There can be different consequences for employment too.
Some employers ask about criminal convictions, which would encompass misdemeanors as well as felonies, other employers only ask about felony convictions. Those are some of the big differences. If you were on probation, the length of the probation varies greatly depending on whether it is a misdemeanor conviction that led to the probationary sentence, or if it was a felony conviction that led to the probationary sentence. Therefore, there is a significant difference.
How Does the Process of Bail Work in New York?
Nearly everyone is entitled to bail. The only people that are not entitled to bail are the people who commit the most serious crimes, or who have committed violent offenses, and they were out on bail, and then they committed another violent offense. Generally, nearly everyone is entitled to bail. The way bail works is a judge makes a determination after hearing arguments from the prosecution, and the defense, as to the risk of flight. After someone is arrested, they appear before a judge. The prosecution and the defense attorney submit oral arguments about whether or not the particular person arrested is likely to return to court.
What happens is there are certain factors the judge will look at, such as prior criminal record, whether or not the defendant has failed to return to court on their previous cases, if they had any previous cases, the severity of the charges that the person is facing at that time, and the amount of jail time. Did the person work? Does the person have a family? Does the person have strong ties to the community? Generally, it is trying to get a sense if this is the type of person if we let them out of jail during the pendency of the case, are they likely to return to court?
Typically, people who have minimal contact with the criminal justice system always return to court whenever they are ordered to do so. Those people have typically low, or no bail set, and are required to come back to court for their court appearances without putting up any money. That brings me to the next point of how does bail work? Bail is the amount of money the court determines that somebody has to put up to pay in order to not be incarcerated during the pendency of his or her case. If you make all your court appearances, they get their money back at the conclusion of their case.
Therefore, if during the pendency of the case, the person accused of the crime goes to every single court date, and never misses a court date, and the case is resolved, at the conclusion of the case they can get their bail money returned to them. People can go to a bail bondsman, which is like an insurance agent for court. They put up a significant portion of the bail money, and in exchange, you pay them an amount of money. Typically, it is ten percent of the amount. They put up the rest, and then they explain to the courts that we are going to ensure that this person comes back to court, and makes all of their court appearances.
At the conclusion of the case, the bail bondsman would get the money back, and you would be out the ten percent. That is typically how bail works. The amount of bail varies greatly depending upon the level of the crime you are charged with. For example, misdemeanor bail ranges from zero dollars to $5000, whereas felony bail, there are times when you can have a good argument from your defense attorney, and you could have minimal contacts, or maybe no criminal records and you are accused of a felony. There could be times where there is no bail for that, but towards the higher range, it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Therefore, the amount of bail greatly depends on the type of charge you are facing.
Read on to find out about Misdemeanor Vs. Felony Charges. Call the law offices of Michael H. Joseph, PLLC for a FREE Initial Consultation at 914-574-8330 and get the information and legal answers you are seeking.