Under New York criminal laws, most offenses are either misdemeanors or felonies. Basically, a felony is a very serious offense with severe penalties. A misdemeanor, on the other hand, is a less serious offense. The penalties are less severe, too.
Besides the harsh legal consequences, a felony conviction can also impact other areas of your life. For instance, a conviction could impact your future voting rights, the right to possess a weapon as well as your housing and employment opportunities. Thus, if you are charged with a felony, you might want to know if your charges can be downgraded to a misdemeanor.
Here are three ways a felony charge can be reduced to a misdemeanor in New York.
Through a plea deal
Generally, most criminal cases are resolved through plea bargains. Basically, a plea bargain or a plea deal happens when the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in return for lenient sentencing. However, the final plea deal must be accepted by the court before enforcement.
Through complete diversion
Though rare, a diversion in a criminal case occurs when the prosecution strikes a deal with the defendant to either avoid or withdraw the charges. An example would be a situation where the defendant is sent to rehabilitation instead of facing driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges. However, it is important to understand that eligibility for diversion is quite strict. Generally, the defendant must be:
- A first-time offender with no criminal record
- The offense must be non-violent
- Highly unlikely to repeat the offense
Due to the facts of the case
A felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor when new evidence is introduced into the case. For instance, when the defendant successfully argues that the victim did not suffer corporal injury in a domestic battery charge, then the charge can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Facing a criminal charge anywhere is a big deal. Find out how you can defend yourself and safeguard your rights when charged with a crime.