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 seek legal representation from a trusted 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 think that you can handle it alone. Contact a criminal defense attorney who can help negate the terms of your sentence or prove your innocence.
What types of crimes are misdemeanor offenses in Pennsylvania?
It’s important to understand how misdemeanors and felonies differ as some crimes may seem incredibly severe. A misdemeanor charge can be filed by any individual who feels that you have caused them harm or damage. These charges can also be dropped by the person who made the accusation. In a felony charge, you cannot do that.
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 up to $10,000. Such crimes considered a first-degree misdemeanor are:
- Simple assault
- Terroristic threats
- Assault of a sports official
- Multiple DUI offenses
- Theft of property worth at least $200 but less than $2,000
A second-degree misdemeanor does not have as severe of a charge as a first-degree, however, it is still very serious. A conviction of a second-degree misdemeanor can result in a prison sentence up to two years and as much as a $5,000 fine.
Such crimes considered second-degree misdemeanors are:
- Impersonating a public servant
- False swearing in official matters
- Theft of property worth at least $50 but less than $200
- Criminal trespass
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 at night
- Open lewdness
- Possession of marijuana
- Criminal Mischief
- Theft of property worth less than $50
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 may be charged with a greater penalty than what is listed here. This is why it is imperative 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.
In Pennsylvania, a summary offense is the most minor of criminal offenses. Often called a “non-traffic citation,” summary offenses do not often go to court, but rather, a judgment is made at the discretion of the police officer.
Typically, a summary offense results in a fine. Examples of summary offenses are:
- Disorderly conduct in some situations
- Retail theft of minor dollar amount
- Neglecting to license a dog
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