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Court Discusses Recidivism

There are statutory laws in New York that provide for the prosecution of felony offenders. The New York Legislature designed these laws to provide stiffer penalties to offenders who have been charged with felony crimes in the past. A felony crime is any crime that the courts have deemed more serious. They are generally defined as any crime in which the penalty is more than one year of incarceration or more than a $2,000.00 fine. Felony theft offenses are offenses that involve high dollar theft. In most states, that is defined as any amount greater than $500.00. However, some states make it a felony to steal any amount over $250.00. If a person enters an automobile to steal something, it does not matter what the value is, or if the car is open or locked, the offense is a felony. Entering the building or dwelling house of another is also a felony. Stealing a car or joyriding in a car is a felony. Some assaults and batteries are considered felonies as well. Rape, sodomy, forcible sodomy, child molestation, child abuse, kidnapping, and numerous other offenses are also felonies.

The New York legislature wanted to send a message to anyone who was a repeat offender of felony crimes that each time the re-offend, or recidivate, the punishment for their crimes will also increase. Because, predicate felony convictions can make such a difference in the punishment that an offender receives, it is in an offender’s best interest to ensure that the prosecution is equipped with the correct information about their predicate offenses. Also, because each state determines felony convictions differently, it is possible that a person who has been charged with a felony in a state other than New York, may have that felony conviction used to determine that he is a felony recidivist.

The question of law arises when the felony crime that the offender was convicted of in another state, would not be considered a felony in the state of New York. One such offender was convicted of a predicate felony in the State of Maryland. He was later convicted of a felony in the state of New York. The prosecution determined that his sentence should be established under the second felony offender as it is written in Penal Law § 70.06(1)(b)(i). However, the offense that was a felony in the State of Maryland, had it been committed in the state of New York, would not have been considered a felony. The prosecution considered that the offense should be considered a predicate felony for the purposes of sentencing this offender. The offender disagrees. He contends that his conviction in Maryland, would not have been a felony if he had committed it in New York. Therefore, in New York, he has not committed a predicate felony offense.

The Supreme Court reviewed the case law and determined that other offenders have been sentenced as second felony offenders on a predicate felony offense that occurred in other states. The difference for this particular offender is that the crime that he was convicted of would not have been a felony if he had committed the offense in New York as opposed to Maryland. The court determined that applying New York law to the crime that was previously committed would mean that this offender would not be considered a second felony offender in New York. The determination of the court must be made based on New York statutes and not on the statutes of Maryland. Because the viewpoint of Maryland was that the offense was a felony, if he was convicted of the second offense in Maryland, he would be sentenced as a second felony offender in Maryland, but not in New York. The court ruled that he must be sentenced as a first felony offender in New York.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its criminal Lawyers there are convenient offices throughout New York State and Metropolitan area. Our felony offender Attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations, whether you have been charged with credit card fraud, sex crimes or drug possession. Hiring a felony crime attorney can prevent you from losing precious time with your family.