Legal Penalties for Assault in the First Degree in NYC

New York City and other jurisdictions in New York State follow uniform sentencing rules under the state's penal law, which treats first-degree assault as a very serious crime. Penalties vary depending on the criminal history of the offender and the nature of her previous crimes. Convicted persons face sentences ranging from five to 25 years and also may have to pay substantial fines.

  1. Class B Violent Felony

    • New York classifies first-degree assault as a Class B felony, the second most serious category of crime under state law. An assault falls into this category when the offender uses a deadly weapon to deliberately cause serious injury, attacks a person with the intention of permanently injuring or disfiguring him or seriously injures someone while engaging in reckless conduct that creates a serious risk of death. A person also faces conviction for first-degree assault when he or an accomplice seriously injures someone during the commission of a felony.

    Sentences for Persons without Prior Offenses

    • Under current law, New York judges impose a term between the maximum and minimum allowable sentences, measured in whole or half-years. In first-degree assault cases, an offender with no prior felony convictions faces a sentence of at least five years and as many as 25. In September 2013, the law will change to allow indeterminate sentences, in which judges will sentence offenders to a term of imprisonment between the minimum and maximum without specifying how long an offender will actually serve.

    Sentences for Persons with Prior Felonies

    • The minimum sentence for first-degree assault increases for people with prior felony convictions. New York sentencing law refers to these prior offenses as "predicates" because an offender's eligibility for longer sentences is predicated on them. An earlier crime counts as a predicate when it took place within 10 years of the first-degree assault, and would count as a felony under New York law, even if the offender committed it outside New York. Where the person convicted of assault has a qualifying violent predicate, this increases the minimum sentence on the assault charge from five to 12 years. For a person with a non-violent predicate, the minimum sentence increases to nine years.


    • In addition to sentences, those convicted of first-degree assault also may face fines. The amount cannot exceed the higher of $5,000 or twice the amount that the offender gained from the offense. In deciding how much of a fine to impose, sentencing courts must take several factors into account, including the offender's financial gain from the crime, the effect of the assault on its victims and the offender's ability to pay.

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