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Update: New York State Criminal Justice Reforms- Marijuana and Sentencing

by David Bruffett on 5/03/2019

New York, like much of the country, is undergoing numerous changes with regard to the parameters of criminal law in the state. Legislators have been listening to advisory committees, as well as the public, as to their concerns about how criminal defendants are treated in New York, from arrest to sentence. Sweeping changes with regard to bail issues, the right to counsel, marijuana and sentencing have been coming at a rapid pace.

The changes, some minor and others substantial, are keeping judges and attorneys on their toes to keep up. Some recent changes:

Marijuana Charges

As of April 2019, the mandatory suspension provision of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 510(2)(b)(v) has been repealed. Courts are no longer required to suspend a defendant's driver's license after a conviction for a misdemeanor under Article 220 (Controlled Substances Offenses) and Article 221 (Offenses Involving Marijuana). 

Misdemeanor Sentencing

Effective April 2019, Penal Law Section 70.15 has been modified. The maximum jail sentence for a Class A misdemeanor, or an Unclassified misdemeanor, is three-hundred sixty-four days, 364, no longer one year. Any jail sentence on a misdemeanor imposed prior to the effective date that was a definite sentence of imprisonment for one year, or 365 days, shall, by operation of law, be changed to, mean and be interpreted and applied as a sentence of three-hundred sixty four (364) days. Also, any requests for the records or certificates of conviction(s), shall be set forth the previously imposed sentence of one year as three hundred sixty four (364) days.

This seemingly minor change will have a large impact on undocumented immigrants. That was the impetus for the new legislation. Currently, a deportation proceeding is triggered under Federal law any time an undocumented immigrant is convicted of a crime that carries a maximum sentence of at least a year. The change to a three-hundred sixty-four day maximum sentence prevents federal immigration authorities from seeking deportation of an undocumented immigrant based on their sentence for an A misdemeanor or an Unclassified misdemeanor.

Please feel free to call our office if you are facing marijuana charges or have any questions about how your case might be affected by these changes. 





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