New York organizes felonies into six different classes, ranging from Class E, the least serious type, to Class A, the most serious. Class A felonies are further divided into two subcategories: Class A-I and Class A-II.
For information on misdemeanors, see New York Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
New York’s felony sentencing laws are somewhat complicated, imposing sentences based on several factors. There are two basic types of felony sentences in New York: indeterminate and determinate.
When a court sentences someone to an indeterminate sentence, it establishes a sentence range of a minimum and maximum incarceration period. Courts typically impose indeterminate sentences for nonviolent felonies. Once a person serves the minimum amount under the sentence, he or she becomes eligible for parole. If the convicted person is denied parole, he or she will serve no more than the maximum sentence imposed by the court. There are different indeterminate sentences for each class of felony offense.
A determinate sentence is a set period of years, and does not involve a range. For violent felonies, felonies involving drug offenses, and felonies where the defendant has been convicted of a prior violent felony, New York courts typically impose a determinate sentence. (Class A felonies have indeterminate sentences.) Once a court imposes a determinate sentence, the person convicted has to serve a specific number of years in prison.
The range of potential determinate sentences differs significantly, based on the defendant’s prior conduct, whether the crime is categorized as a violent offense, and what class of felony is involved. Also, people convicted of a second or subsequent non-drug or non-violent felony face enhanced indeterminate sentences instead of determinate sentences.
Here are some examples of potential determinate sentences by felony class.