New York Criminal Facilitation Law – A Plain English Guide
So you got arrested for “criminal facilitation” in New York and have no idea what it means or what happens next? Don’t worry, I gotchu. This article will break it all down in simple terms so you understand the charges, possible defenses, and potential penalties.
What is Criminal Facilitation?
Criminal facilitation basically means helping someone else commit a crime. There are 4 degrees of criminal facilitation charges in New York:
- 4th degree – lowest level misdemeanor
- 3rd degree – Class E felony
- 2nd degree – Class C felony
- 1st degree – Class B felony
The more serious the crime you helped commit, the higher the degree of criminal facilitation. Here’s a quick rundown:
4th Degree Criminal Facilitation
This is when you help someone commit any felony crime. It’s a Class A misdemeanor.
- Driving your buddy to a store so he can rob it – you’re facilitating a robbery
- Loaning your gun to someone who uses it to shoot someone – you facilitated an assault
3rd Degree Criminal Facilitation
This is when you help a minor (under 16) commit a felony. It’s a Class E felony.
- Giving a knife to a 15 year old who then stabs someone – you facilitated an assault
- Driving a 14 year old to steal a car – you facilitated grand theft auto
2nd Degree Criminal Facilitation
This is when you help someone commit a Class A felony. It’s a Class C felony.
Some Class A felonies:
So if you help someone commit those types of crimes, you could be charged with 2nd degree criminal facilitation.
1st Degree Criminal Facilitation
This is when you help a minor (under 16) commit a Class A felony. It’s a Class B felony – the most serious criminal facilitation charge.
For example, if you help a 15 year old commit murder or kidnapping, you could be charged with 1st degree criminal facilitation.
What Makes it Criminal Facilitation?
For any criminal facilitation charge, the prosecutor has to prove these 3 elements:
- You engaged in conduct that provided someone with the means or opportunity to commit a crime
- You believed it was probable that:
- Your conduct did in fact aid the person in committing the crime
The key is that you didn’t actually commit the crime yourself, but you helped make it possible in some way.
Some examples of “facilitating” conduct:
- Driving the perpetrator to or from the crime scene
- Loaning your gun, knife, tools, etc. that were used in the crime
- Acting as a lookout or getaway driver
- Giving advice on how to commit the crime
Basically anything that helps or encourages the criminal in committing the main offense.
Can I Be Charged With Criminal Facilitation?
You CAN be charged with criminal facilitation even if:
- The person you helped was found not guilty or wasn’t even prosecuted for the main crime
- You didn’t intend for the crime to happen – you just helped make it possible
- You didn’t know the crime was going to happen
- You aren’t guilty of the actual crime because you didn’t have the right intent
The prosecutor only has to prove you helped in some way and knew you were aiding a crime.
But there are some defenses that might get you off the hook…
Possible Defenses to Criminal Facilitation
Here are some ways you could fight criminal facilitation charges:
If you were forced or threatened to aid in the crime, you may have a valid duress defense.
For example, if someone held a gun to your head and made you be their getaway driver, you have a good argument that you acted under duress.
Your conviction CANNOT be based only on testimony from the person who committed the main crime. There must be additional evidence connecting you to aiding the crime.
So if the prosecutor’s only evidence is the robber saying “yeah, he drove me to the bank” that’s not enough to convict you by itself.
Lack of Intent
If you can show you didn’t actually know you were aiding a crime, you may be able to beat the charges.
For example, if you thought you were just driving a friend to the store, not to rob it, you weren’t intentionally facilitating a crime.
What Are the Penalties If Convicted?
The potential jail time and fines depend on the degree of criminal facilitation:
- 4th Degree (misdemeanor) – up to 1 year in jail, up to $1,000 fine
- 3rd Degree (Class E felony) – up to 4 years in prison, fine up to $5,000
- 2nd Degree (Class C felony) – up to 15 years in prison, fine up to $15,000
- 1st Degree (Class B felony) – up to 25 years in prison, fine up to $30,000
Probation periods up to 5 years may also be imposed.
Recent NY Criminal Facilitation Cases
Here are some real life examples of criminal facilitation charges in New York courts:
- People v. Watson (2012) – Defendant drove an undercover cop to a drug deal, facilitating the “sale” of narcotics. He was convicted of 4th degree criminal facilitation.
- People v. Boswell (2021) – Defendant allowed her home to be used for prostitution activities. She was convicted of 3rd degree criminal facilitation for facilitating prostitution.
- People v. Williams (2019) – Defendant provided his gun to a shooter who killed someone the next day. He was convicted of 2nd degree criminal facilitation for facilitating murder.
- People v. Sanchez (2020) – Defendant drove minors to a home invasion robbery where someone was seriously injured. She was convicted of 1st degree criminal facilitation.
As you can see, criminal facilitation charges can arise from many different crimes in many different circumstances. An experienced New York criminal defense lawyer can review the details of your case and build the strongest defense.
Finding a NY Criminal Facilitation Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been arrested for criminal facilitation in New York, don’t go it alone. Consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. They can assess your case, advise you on the best defense strategies, and fight to get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Here are some tips for finding the right lawyer:
- Look for someone with extensive experience defending criminal facilitation cases in New York. This area of law has nuances you want an expert in.
- Consider hiring a local attorney who knows the prosecutors and judges and how things work in your jurisdiction.
- Find someone you trust and feel comfortable with. You’ll be working closely together.
- Ask about their track record getting criminal facilitation charges dropped or reduced. Check reviews online from past clients.
- Be sure they have experience taking cases like yours to trial if needed. Their willingness to go to trial gives you more leverage in plea negotiations.
- Find out what legal fees will be upfront so there are no surprises. Most criminal defense lawyers work on flat fees or payment plans.
Don’t leave your future up to chance. The penalties for being convicted of criminal facilitation can be severe. Do your homework to get the best defense attorney possible for your case.
The Bottom Line
Being charged with criminal facilitation in New York is serious business. My hope is this plain English overview helped you understand the basics of the offense, possible defenses, and penalties. The most important takeaway is to get a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer on your side immediately. They can protect your rights, build the strongest case, and give you the best chance at a positive outcome. Best of luck fighting the charges!