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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Felony Convictions

There are few things as stressful as getting charged with a felony. In New York and New Jersey, felonies are highly serious crimes that come with a multitude of consequences. For example, if you are convicted of a felony, you may no longer vote, sit on a jury, obtain a firearm, or use welfare. Additionally, many companies are in the practice of performing extensive background checks before they take on new employees and a felony conviction may hamper your changes of obtaining jobs in certain fields.

In New York there are five classes of felonies, ranging from A-E. There are hundreds of crimes that fit into each class, but I've put together a quick guide to what crimes correlate to each class of felonies.

Class A is the most seriously class of felonies.
Class A Felonies include: murder, treason, arson, kidnapping (all in the first degrees)
Violent Felony Sentence: Life, 20-25 years

Class B Felonies include: Aggravated Assault of a Police Officer, Burglary 1, Criminal Possession of a Weapon 1, Rape 1, Bribery 1, Grand Larceny 1, Insurance Fraud 1
Violent Felony Sentence: 5-25 years
Non Violent Felony Sentence: 1-3, max 25 years

Class C Felonies include: Aggravated Sexual Abuse 2, Burglary 2, Robbery 2, Bribery 2, Manslaughter 2, Vehicle Manslaughter 2
Violent Felony Sentence: 3.5-15 years
Non Violent Felony Sentence: probation, 1-15 years

Class D Felonies include: Assault 2, Criminal Sale of a Firearm 3, Sexual Abuse 1, Bail jumping 1, Criminal Sale of Marijuana 2, Stalking 1
Violent Felony Sentence: 2-7 years
Non Violent Felony Sentence: probation, 1-7 years

Class E Felonies include: Abandonment of a Child, Arson 4, Defrauding the government, Stalking 2, Computer Tampering 2, Criminally Negligent Homicide
Violent Felony: Probation, 1.5-4 years
Non Violent Felony: Probation, 1-4 years

Please remember that this information is taken from New York Penal Law Article 70, Sentences of Imprisonment. It does not mean that you can calculate your prison or probation time from this guide. You can receive jail time for Class C, D, and E felonies, however, jail time isn't mandatory like it is with Class A and B felonies. Prior Convictions often have a big impact on sentencing.

If you have been convicted of a felony, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will be able to give you a more accurate estimate of what your sentencing will be. They can also advise and guide you through the process. If you are in need of a Criminal Defense attorney, you can call my office at 718-317-5007 or contact me at

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Infidelity, Stay at Home Parent, or Financially Vulnerable? Consider a Post-Nupital Agreement!

We've written about pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements, but do you know that many couples are now opting to draw up post-nuptial agreements? A post-nuptial agreement is a legal agreement between a couple that is made after the marriage has already taken place. Couples chose to sign a post-nup for a wide variety of reasons. One common reason that couples choose post-nuptial agreements because one partner has chosen to be a stay at home parent. If the couple decides that one partner will put his or her career on hold in order to stay at home with the couple's children, they may also decide to place the economic protection of a post-nuptial agreement in place. Parents who chose to stay home with their children often not only miss out on their peak earning years but lose time ordinarily spent climbing the career ladder.

If you or your partner has decided to become a stay at home parent, it's easy to protect yourself financially! Your first step should be to consult an attorney who specializes in Family Law. You should explain the specifics of your family's situation. Your attorney can then draft your family's custom agreement. Families can choose whatever financial arrangement is right for them (within the parameters of Family Law) and map out how their assets and the future of your finances in the event of divorce.

Post-nupital agreements have also become popular options for couples who have experienced infidelity. Depending on personal circumstances, couples can draw up anything from a "infidelity clause" in their post-nupital agreement to a shift of assets into the betrayed spouse's name for his or her financial security.

Post-nupital agreements can protect the entire family's financial future and ease the divorce process if it ever occurred. If you are married and in financially vulnerable position as a result, I strongly recommend you look into drafting a post-nupital agreement.

-Kevin P. McKernan

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Amendment to the NYS Ignition Interlock Device Law

Recently, some new amendments to New York State Ignition Interlock Device Law were signed into law. The amendments change several key points of the procedure:

1. It is now a class E felony to drive while intoxicated on a conditional license. You will be charged with first degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
2. Youthful (under 18) DUI offenders will now be treated just like their adult counterparts. Before the amendment, it was not mandated that youth offenders get an ignition interlock device installed like it was for adult offenders.
3. The minimum period that an interlock ignition device will be installed was increased to one year. Before the amendment, the minimum was only 6 months.
4. The period of time that the interlock is on now begins from the date of sentencing, or the date that the device was installed if it was done in advance. Prior to the amendment, no “time served” was credited if the interlock was put on before sentencing.
5. In order to avoid the installation of the interlock device, an offender must swear under oath that they do not own a vehicle.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Jersey DWI Legislation Mandates More Ignition Locks!

New Jersey has recently seen a few pieces of legislation that push for the installation of more Ignition Interlock Devices in the vehicles of DWI offenders. An Ignition Interlock Device is an increasingly popular piece of technology that, once installed, forces potential drivers to take a Breath Alcohol Analysis test before their vehicle's engine is able to start. 

Previously, New Jersey law mandated a three to seven month license suspension for first time offenders. Now, the NJ Legislature is considering a bill that would allow DWI offenders to avoid the license suspension penalty by mandating that all drivers convicted of DWI allow their vehicles to be fitted with the Ignition Lock device. 

If the legislation is passed, it will have a big impact in the way DWI cases are handled in New Jersey. One of the most far-reaching consequences of a DUI conviction is license suspension, which often prevents offenders from getting to work or school and thousands of dollars in fines, insurance premiums and commuting costs. Advocates of the bill assert that it will shift the focus of New Jersey DWI policy to prevention instead of simply punishing first time offenders. 

If you or a loved one is facing a DWI in New Jersey, it is important you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. An attorney who is familiar with these recent shifts in legislature is invaluable in cases such as these.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What You Can Do When Divorcing a Hostile Spouse

Divorce is an emotional process that can cause even the most amicable of spouses to bicker. In fact, it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to "go hostile" and make financial or child related threats during the divorce process. One spouse may make statements such as "I'm going to get the children in court" or "I'll make sure this divorce will bankrupt you." Threats like these don't at all mean that the court will allow them to occur, but they can easily become intimidating and frustrating for the spouse on the reviving end. If you are in the midst of a divorce with a "hostile spouse", there are steps you can take to protect yourself.