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New York Penal Law § 190.42: Criminal Usury in the First Degree

New York Penal Law § 190.42 defines criminal usury in the first degree, which is a serious felony offense that involves charging an even more excessive rate of interest than criminal usury in the second degree. A person is guilty of criminal usury in the first degree when they charge an interest rate of more than 50% per year on a loan or other extension of credit. This rate is considered exorbitant and is illegal under New York law. Like criminal usury in the second degree, the statute applies to a wide range of financial transactions, including loans, lines of credit, and other forms of credit agreements, as well as transactions involving goods or services where payment is deferred.

To prove the crime of criminal usury in the first degree, the prosecutor must show that the accused knowingly charged an excessive interest rate with the intent to evade New York's usury laws. The prosecutor must also show that the accused's conduct caused the victim to suffer a financial loss of $1,000 or more.


People v. Nelson, 162 A.D.3d 407 (1st Dept. 2018). In this case the defendant was a loan officer at a bank who was charged with criminal usury in the first degree under New York Penal Law § 190.42. The prosecution alleged that the defendant had made loans to customers with interest rates that exceeded the legal limit of 25% per year. The defendant argued that the loans were exempt from usury laws because they were made to businesses and not individuals. However, the court found that the loans were made to individuals, not businesses. The court further found that the defendant had charged interest rates that exceeded the legal limit, and that he had done so knowingly and intentionally.

The court noted that the defendant had engaged in a pattern of charging excessive interest rates, and that his actions had resulted in significant profits for the bank. The court also noted that the defendant had not acted alone, but had received assistance from others within the bank. The court ultimately upheld the defendant's conviction for criminal usury in the first degree, and sentenced him to 1 year in jail, with the sentence suspended, and 5 years of probation. The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution to his victims.

This case is significant because it demonstrates that even employees of reputable financial institutions can be charged with criminal usury if they knowingly and intentionally charge excessive interest rates to customers.

Related Offenses
  1. Misconduct by corporate official: New York Penal Law section 190.35
  2. Criminal usury in the second degree: New York Penal Law section 190.40

The sentence for New York Penal Law § 190.42: Criminal usury in the first degree may include imprisonment, fines, and restitution, depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Criminal usury in the first degree is a class C felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. However, the specific sentence may be less than the maximum depending on factors such as the defendant's criminal history, the nature and severity of the offense, and any mitigating circumstances. In addition to imprisonment, a person convicted of criminal usury in the first degree may also be ordered to pay fines and restitution to victims of the offense.

New York Penal Law § 190.42: Criminal Usury in the First Degree

A person is guilty of criminal usury in the first degree when, not being authorized or permitted by law to do so, he knowingly charges, takes or receives any money or other property as interest on the loan or forbearance of any money or other property, at a rate exceeding twenty-five per centum per annum or the equivalent rate for a longer or shorter period and either the actor had previously been convicted of the crime of criminal usury or of the attempt to commit such crime, or the actor`s conduct was part of a scheme or business of making or collecting usurious loans. Criminal usury in the first degree is a class C felony.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are facing charges for criminal usury in the first degree under New York Penal Law § 190.42, it is critical to seek legal counsel from an experienced New York criminal lawyer as soon as possible. A conviction for this offense can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment and significant fines. Your attorney can help you understand the charges against you, evaluate the evidence, and develop a defense strategy tailored to your case. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

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