Criminal Charges and Criminal Court
Some of the vehicle and traffic charges we deal with are more serious than a violation or infraction. While violations or infractions are technically considered criminal (as compared to civil) they are the lowest level of the criminal acts. A conviction for a violation wouldn’t mean someone had a permanent criminal record and would need to answer “yes” if asked on a job or immigration application if they were ever convicted of a crime.
The more traditional criminal charges are considered misdemeanors or felonies and our firm sees a number of such charges under the vehicle and traffic laws.
Typical vehicle and traffic criminal charges:
- Driving incidents involving drugs or alcohol
- Leaving the scene of an incident with personal injury
- Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (driving while license is suspended or revoked)
- Driving while the registration is suspended
- Reckless driving
Whether these charges are misdemeanors or felonies can often depend on the degree of severity of the incident. For example, driving with a suspended license due to a single unpaid traffic ticket will be a misdemeanor but driving with a suspended license due to a prior drug or alcohol conviction can be a felony.
Penalties for criminal charges can include:
- Fines and surcharges due to the court.
- Points on the driver license
- License Suspension – Either due to a specific type of criminal charge or an accumulation of points, convictions can lead to suspension of your driver license.
- Revocation – Convictions for certain types of criminal charges can lead to full revocation of your driver license.
- DMV Driver Assessments – Potential state surcharges based on point accumulation.
- Unemployment – License suspensions, criminal records, too many points…all could lead to job issues.
- Raised insurance premiums – Convictions for traffic related misdemeanors and felonies make a motorist a greater risk to insure and therefore subject to higher insurance rates
While not an official penalty, the stigma of a permanent criminal record can endure well beyond the other typical penalties. Generally, people should do whatever they can to avoid criminal convictions
Our mission at Feifer & Greenberg is always to eliminate or minimize the potential damage caused by vehicle and traffic criminal matters.
How do we try to eliminate or minimize the consequences of traffic misdemeanors and felonies?
In most criminal situations, we are able to negotiate a successful plea bargain. The primary goal is to get the charge reduced to the violation level. Our secondary (but really just as important) goal is to fight to see that the criminal charge is reduced to a violation that won’t place points on the driving record or affect one’s insurance.
While we can never guarantee particular outcomes and of course every situation and charge is different, we’ve had tremendous success over the years avoiding criminal convictions on the vast majority of driving related criminal matters we have fought for our clients.
Which courts handle criminal matters?
In NYC, there are separate criminal courts for criminal matters. There are some that handle less severe cases only and others that handle just about everything. The DMV’s Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) can only handle (as it’s name implies) violations. Anything more serious will be answerable to one of the NYC criminal courts.
Outside NYC, although there are a few exception,s generally the same local village, town, city and county courts which handle moving violations will handle much of the lesser criminal charges.
With criminal matters, you may need to appear even if you have an attorney. It depends on the charge at hand and the court handling your case.
A note on commercial trucking tickets in NYC
NYC trucking tickets are handled by the NYC criminal courts. These are tickets (usually pink in color) issued to either the individual driver or the corporate owner of the vehicle. These are typically various safety/equipment charges after a truck is inspected or certain tax related issues (the NYC Motor Vehicle Tax-MVT or the NY State Highway Use Tax-HUT). While these charges may be handled by the criminal courts, they are generally violations, not misdemeanors or felonies. They will often be referred to as criminal tickets simply because the criminal courts handle them in NYC.
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