Traffic infractions and misdemeanors in New York: an overview

When you receive a ticket from a police officer in New York, that individual may explain to you the nature of the charge and what you will need to do to properly respond to it. But if for some reason you are still wondering what you should do after the police officer departs, this post will provide some relevant information.

To begin with, your traffic ticket has a section with three “checkbox” options in it for traffic infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. One of these should be marked. For purposes of this post, we will consider the differences between misdemeanors and traffic infractions.

If you have been accused of a traffic infraction, you have the option of simply paying the ticket fine by mail or online, or you may appear in court to challenge the charge against you. An infraction is not considered to be a crime and frequently carries no jail penalty or a penalty of no more than 15 days, so the judicial procedures for processing an infraction are more informal.

misdemeanor, on the other hand, may not sound serious but it is still considered to be a crime and depending on the class of the misdemeanor, Class A, Class B, or undefined, can carry a jail sentence of up to one year in addition to heavier fines than an infraction.

Another key distinction between a traffic infraction and a misdemeanor is that you must appear in court if you are accused of a misdemeanor. You cannot simply pay the ticket without making such an appearance.

If you are unsure about the exact nature of the charge of your traffic ticket, or if you have questions about your legal rights or what you need to do to defend yourself in the New York legal system, a good starting point is to consult with a law firm that includes in its practice areas legal representation of traffic violation matters.