DataNew York  


In New York, felony murder is defined in the second degree murder statute (N.Y. Penal Law § 125.25).

Prosecutors can charge and convict any person of murder without having to prove that they intended to cause another person’s death. Prosecutors must only prove that a person or an accomplice committed or attempted to commit a specified felony and that “in the course of and in furtherance of such crime or of immediate flight therefrom” a death occurs.

People charged with felony murder in New York can raise an “affirmative defense” that they weren’t the one who committed or aided in the commission of the homicide, weren’t armed, and “had no reasonable found to believe” that any other participant was armed or “intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death or serious bodily injury.” Affirmative defenses, however, are extremely difficult to prove.

A conviction for felony murder carries a sentence of a minimum of 15 years to 25 years (parole eligibility after 15 years), and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. If prosecutors, however, are able to prove that a person intended to kill during the commission of certain specified felonies, the sentence is mandatory life without the possibility of parole.

Analysis: Race

So far, we have been able to identify 226 persons sentenced for felony murder in New York.

Race and Conviction Rate

In New York, Black people are 19.1112 times more likely than White people to be incarcerated for felony murder, and Hispanic people are 6.0039 times more likely than white people to be incarcerated for felony murder.

Black 19.1112x
Hispanic 6.0039

Disproportionate Representation

Analysis: Impact on Youth

Young people in New York are disproportionately impacted by felony murder.

  • 31

    Median age at offense for all crimes in New York.

  • 25.6

    Median age at offense for a person with at least one felony murder charge.

  • 36

    Persons incarcerated for felony murder were younger than 18 at the time of offense.

Data Request Process

Data Request Process Grade 3.4 / 5 (C)
Factors Supporting Grade
Request Responsiveness
Financial Accessibility
No Residency Required
Appeal Responsiveness

*These factors track the process--i.e. the effort and obstacles--for obtaining data from individual states under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and appeals process. These factors do not measure the quality of the data; only the process of attempting to obtain the data.

How We Collected Our Data

In order to obtain information on felony murder, we submitted a public records request to the New York Department of Corrections and Community Safety (DOCCS) on February 7th, 2023. Nadene Shultis, the Assistant Records Access Officer, responded on March 2nd, 2023, stating that they would be able to provide the data (with a cost of $2). We received the data on March 27th, 2023 in a mailed CD-ROM. The disc contained five text files containing the records of released, paroled, and incarcerated individuals in the DOCCS system. The disc also contained five PDFs detailing the layout of each text file.

We calculated each individual’s maximum and minimum sentence length by adding together their sentenced years, their sentenced months (divided by 12), and their sentenced days (divided by 365), resulting in a composite total of years sentenced. Those whose sentences were logged as “LIFE” were categorized as life sentences.

However, the data from DOCCS did not contain information specific to felony murder. To this end, we incorporated data from the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). This dataset contained records on all persons charged with felony murder in New York from 2008 to 2021. We then filtered for just those who were eventually convicted under the felony murder rule. In New York, felony murder is codified in Penal Law 125.25 Section 3, which is represented in the data by the charge “PL 125.25 MURDER-2ND 03.” Using this methodology, we identified 226 persons incarcerated for felony murder in New York.

Unfortunately, we were not able to link these individuals to matches in the DOCCS data, leaving us with a full roster without felony murder identified and a list of those incarcerated for felony murder. In the end, we merged the two datasets, acknowledging that we were now double counting those who were convicted for felony murder. We corrected for this by adjusting our calculations by subtracting the count of felony murder convictions from whatever value we were searching for.

Access the Data

Learn more about how you can contribute to transparency when it comes to felony murder.