Crimes are generally divided into two categories depending on their level of seriousness – felonies and misdemeanors. Although, both are crimes and have very serious consequences for the accused, generally speaking, felonies are more serious than misdemeanors and carry much greater consequences in terms of incarceration and fines.
Under New York penal law, misdemeanors are divided into two categories – “A” misdemeanors (a maximum of one year of incarceration) and “B” misdemeanors (a maximum of six months of incarceration).
Felonies under New York penal law range from “A” felonies (the most serious) all the way down to “E” felonies (the least serious). The most serious of felonies (“A’) carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while the least serious of felonies (“E”) carry a maximum sentence of four years incarceration.
Under federal criminal law, crimes are generally divided into two classes, felonies and misdemeanors. These are further subdivided into subcategories with differing periods of incarceration. Felonies range from “A” (the most serious with a maximum penalty of death and a maximum period of incarceration of life) to “E” (the least serious with a maximum incarceration period of one year).
Misdemeanors range from “A” (the most serious with a maximum incarceration period of one year) to “C” (the least serious with a maximum incarceration period of 30 days).