Many people in White Plains, New York, and the surrounding area probably recognize to some extent that some crimes are more serious than others.

For instance, a person who is accused of seriously hurting someone or robbing a bank is more likely to face a harsh punishment than, say, someone accused of being disorderly or shoplifting a candy bar.

Like other states, New York law classifies crimes according to how much punishment a person can face for committing them. While in theory the idea is for more serious crimes to carry more serious punishments, which actions fall within which classifications can be a bit odd or even mysterious.

The most serious crimes in New York are felonies which range from degree A-1, the most serious, to E, the least serious. However, all such criminal charges carry with them the possibility of more than one year in prison, as well as a $5,000 fine or, if the person unlawfully profited from his or her crime, up to double the ill-gotten gains. Depending on the degree of charge, a punishment for a felony can range widely, from probation all the way to incarceration for the rest of one’s life.

Hopefully, very few people in White Plains face felony charges. However, many average citizens can find themselves facing a misdemeanor, including for things like drunk driving. Misdemeanors are serious offenses in that they can land a person in jail for up to one year and lead to a fine of $1,000. Class B misdemeanors carry with them a maximum of three months of jail time.

It also bears mentioning that some offenses, like disorderly conduct, are violations. While these are not technically crimes, someone who commits a violation may have to spend up to 15 days in jail. This is of course a lot of time, especially for a working citizen who may have made a one-time mistake.

The point is that any crime in New York, or, for that matter, even a non-criminal, violation, can have serious consequences to the person accused of it. This is one reason why many people choose to speak with a criminal law attorney after being arrested or summoned to appear on a charge.