What is a New York Class E Felony?

What is a New York Class E Felony?

Though it may be the least severe felony charge that an individual can receive under New York state penal law, it is nonetheless a serious conviction that can have a major, irreversible impact on your life.

NYPD officer arresting a woman with handcuffs

Here, we’ll help you to understand what a Class E felony is, how it differs from a misdemeanor or a more serious felony charge, some examples of Class E felonies, and the kind of sentence you can expect to receive if convicted..

Felony Classes

There are a total of five felony classes: Class A felony, Class B felony, Class C felony, Class D felony, and Class E felony, with A being the most serious (potentially leading to life imprisonment) and E being the least. However, this does not mean that a Class E felony charge should be taken at all lightly – New York State penal code describes a Class E felony as ‘an offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year may be imposed’.

Under the umbrella of Class E felony, there are two further categories: violent felony and non-violent felony charges. Some non-violent Class E felony charges include abandonment of a child, promoting a suicide attempt, and criminally negligent homicide, while violent felonies include persistent sexual abuse and placing a false bomb or hazardous substance in the second degree.

As you can tell, these are grim charges that can have a monumental impact on an individual’s life, even as the ‘least’ of the felony charges.

Felony vs Misdemeanor

A Class E felony charge is considered more serious than a misdemeanor charge, and as such carries a potentially longer jail sentence. While a Class A misdemeanor in New York carries a sentence of up to 364 days, a Class E felony can result in a sentence of between one year and five years. Both of these kinds of charges are more significant than an infraction, which typically only results in a fine and does not appear on your criminal record.

Examples of Class E Felonies

As the different felony classes are dependent largely on the sentence given if convicted, there are a wide range of different crimes that are considered Class E felonies despite having little else in common. Here are a few diverse examples of what a Class E felony could look like:

  • Aggravated sexual abuse in the fourth degree (a violent felony)
  • Criminal mischief in the third degree (painting significant graffiti onto the wall of a building that doesn’t belong to you, for example)
  • Arson in the fourth degree (recklessly damaging someone else’s car with a fire you set, for instance)
  • Computer tampering in the third degree
  • Criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree
  • Welfare fraud in the fourth degree
  • Rape in the third degree
  • Falsifying business records in the fourth degree
  • Criminal sale of cannabis in the third degree
  • Criminal sexual act in the third degree

You may have noticed that many of these charges are given as Class E felonies when in the third or fourth degree. This is because the severity of a crime such as criminal mischief or aggravated sexual abuse has an impact on its related felony charge – criminal mischief in the first degree, for instance, is a Class B felony charge.

Possible Jail Sentence for a Class E Felony

As previously stated, the minimum jail sentence for a Class E felony is one year, and the maximum sentence is five years – if a charge carries a sentence over five years, it is classed as a Class D felony or higher. Additionally, the maximum sentence remains the same regardless of whether you are a non-violent or violent felony offender, and your sentence is likely to be longer if you have a previous felony conviction.

Further Consequences of a Felony Conviction

In addition to the jail sentence you’re likely to face if convicted of a Class E felony, any kind of felony charge will result in severe consequences that can, and likely will, follow you for the rest of your life. Some legal repercussions of a felony conviction may include:

  • No longer being allowed to own firearms
  • No longer being allowed to vote while incarcerated or on parole
  • No longer being able to claim welfare
  • No longer being able to sit on a jury

All of these effects of a felony conviction can be difficult to deal with alone, but this doesn’t factor in the enormous social cost of being a felony offender. Many convicts discover after release that finding work, getting an apartment, and opening a checking or savings account is much more difficult, and you may face personal difficulties with family and friends due to these new societal restrictions.

This is why a criminal defense attorney will often try to reduce a Class E felony charge to a Class A misdemeanor or a non-criminal resolution to limit negative future consequences. 

Talk to a New York Criminal Defense Lawyer

Any kind of felony charge can have an enormous and detrimental impact on the rest of your life, even if it isn’t within one of the more ‘serious’ felony classes. That’s why, if you or someone you love has been charged with a Class E felony, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer for clarification and advice on your next steps before you face a grand jury.

If you have been charged in New York and contact our offices, we can help you understand your charge, gather evidence to support your case, and try to reduce your charge and/or sentence to lessen the ramifications on the remainder of you and your family’s lives. We have extensive knowledge of the New York criminal justice system, and strive to ensure that those with a felony offense charge are treated fairly and according to the reality of their mistakes.