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New York City Council proposes legislation for minor offenses

While residents of New York are aware that serious criminal charges have the tendency to carry harsh penalties, they are likely unaware of the possible outcome minor offenses could have. In some cases, outdated state laws cause offenders to endure serious penalties for criminal charges that do not equal the imposed punishment. Because of that, legislatures work to adjust these laws, allowing for fair punishments. Nonetheless, if a defendant believes that they are being wrongfully charged or sentenced, there are criminal defense options available to them.

According to recent reports, the New York City Council is expected to pass a legislative package that will address the guidelines for low-level offenses. These include minor offenses such as urinating in public, having an open container of alcohol and breaking park rules. Many have long argues that the criminal penalties for these offenses are far too harsh, therefore, official have crafted the legislation currently being decided.

The goal of this legislation is to move these minor infractions from the criminal system to the civil system. It is also their aim to streamline administrative codes and rules that will govern an array of these minor offenses. More modern sanctions would result, making some violation carry a penalty of up to a day in prison. Currently some offenses carry serious penalties and are offenses that many New York resident have never heard of. For example, currently a person could receive up to 10 days in jail for spitting in a park. After these changes, the penalty would be adjusted to up to one day in jail.

In contrast, a series of proposed changes would lead to an increase in penalties as a means to deter certain behaviors. For example, for indecent exposure in a park, an offender could face a misdemeanor charge that is punishable by up to 90 days in jail. While these changes will help to deter certain crimes, these adjustments will also ensure that the punishment offenders receive fits the crime that they have been convicted of.

While changes to criminal system helps ensure defendants are treated fairly, it is important to note that all defendants are afforded the opportunity to initiate a criminal defense after being charged with a crim. No matter the severity of the charge, a defendant could work to uncover information or evidence to reduce the charges and penalties they face or even dismiss the charges against them.

Source: Cityandstateny.com, "Council Poised to Pass Bills Routing Minor Offenses out of Criminal Courts," Sarina Trangle, May 24, 2016

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