Pennsylvania has two types of criminal offenses which often are of the lowest level of crimes: misdemeanors and summary offenses. While these charges are not as severe as felonies, you still need legal representation from a trusted Scranton criminal defense attorney to answer any questions you may have.


In Pennsylvania, misdemeanors are classified into three categories depending on the severity of the charge. First-degree offenses are the most serious type of misdemeanor with significant consequences, while third-degree misdemeanors are the least serious.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor, don’t try to handle it alone. Contact a Scranton criminal defense attorney who can then help negate the terms of your sentence or prove your innocence first.

What types of crimes are misdemeanor offenses in Pennsylvania?

It’s important to understand how misdemeanors and felonies differ even after contacting an attorney. Some crimes may seem incredibly severe when you compare them. A misdemeanor charge can be filed by anyone who feels that you have caused them harm or damage. These charges can also be dropped by the person who made the accusation, except in a felony charge. You cannot drop felony charges.

First-Degree Misdemeanor

Starting with the most serious offense, a crime categorized as a first-degree misdemeanor can result in a conviction of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Crimes considered a first-degree misdemeanor are:

  • Simple assault
  • Terroristic threats
  • Stalking
  • Assault of a sports official
  • Multiple DUI offenses
  • Theft of property worth at least $200 but less than $2,000
  • Prostitution when it is a fourth or subsequent offense.
  • Patronizing a prostitute when it is a fourth or subsequent offense.

Second-Degree Misdemeanor

A second-degree misdemeanor does not have as severe of a charge as a first-degree. However, it is still very serious and carries grave consequences. A conviction of a second-degree misdemeanor can result in a prison sentence of up to two years and as much as a $5,000 fine.

Such crimes considered second-degree misdemeanors are:

  • Bigamy
  • Shoplifting
  • Impersonating a public servant (Police officers, judges, firefighters, etc.)
  • False swearing in official matters
  • Theft of property worth at least $50 but less than $200
  • Criminal trespass
  • Prostitution when it is the third offense.
  • Patronizing a prostitute when it is the third offense.

Third-Degree Misdemeanor

While considered the least severe crime, third-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. A third-degree misdemeanor conviction may include crimes like:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Loitering and prowling at night
  • Open lewdness
  • Possession of marijuana
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Theft of property worth less than $50
  • Harassment
  • Prostitution when it is the first or second offense.
  • Patronizing a prostitute when it is the first or second offense.

Can my misdemeanor crime become a lesser or greater offense?

The simple answer is yes. Depending on the facts of the case, the amount of damage done, and surrounding circumstances, you can be charged with a greater penalty than what we listed here. This is why it is important that you seek representation by a criminal defense lawyer who can guide you through the legal process and make sure you receive the lowest sentence possible.

Summary Offenses

In Pennsylvania, a summary offense is the most minor of criminal offenses. Often called a “non-traffic citation,” summary offenses don’t often go to court. Instead, a judgment is made at the discretion of the police officer.

Typically, a summary offense results in a fine. Examples of summary offenses are:

  • Loitering
  • Disorderly conduct in some situations
  • First-offense retail theft of minor dollar amount
  • Neglecting to license a dog
  • Animal Cruelty
  • Harassment (depending on the degree)
  • Public Drunkenness
  • Simple Trespass
  • Underage drinking
  • And many more


As your advocate, Attorney Craig Kalinoski is committed to protecting you both in and out of the courtroom using his knowledge of the community, law, tenacious negotiation skills, and commitment through trial preparation.

Work with a Scranton criminal defense law firm that is committed to protecting you and your future against any charge you may face — a firm like Kalinoski Law Offices P.C. Call (570) 207-4000 or use our contact form today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case during a free consultation.

We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law and personal injury.

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