Pennsylvania has two types of criminal offenses that are often considered the lowest level of crimes: misdemeanors and summary offenses.

Between the two, misdemeanors are more serious offenses, typically punishable by fines and imprisonment for up to five years. Summary offenses, on the other hand, are less severe and may result in fines or a brief jail term.

Understanding the distinctions between the different types of misdemeanors and summary offenses is crucial for navigating Pennsylvania’s legal system effectively.

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.

What Are Misdemeanors?

In Pennsylvania, misdemeanors refer to criminal offenses that are less serious than felonies but still carry legal consequences. Different types of misdemeanor crimes commonly include theft, simple assault, DUI, and drug possession. Misdemeanors are typically punishable by fines, probation, community service, or jail time. Understanding the legal distinctions is crucial for navigating Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.

What are the categories of misdemeanor offenses in Pennsylvania?

It’s important to understand how the various types of misdemeanor crimes and felonies differ even after contacting a misdemeanor lawyer. 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.

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.

#1. 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. The types of misdemeanors that fall under this category are:

  • Simple assault
  • Terroristic threats
  • Stalking or 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

#2. Second-Degree Misdemeanor

We understand that 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.

The various types of misdemeanors that fall in this category 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

#3. 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 from a reliable misdemeanor lawyer who can guide you through the legal process and make sure you receive the lowest sentence possible.

What Are Summary Offenses?

Summary offenses are minor legal infractions that are less severe than misdemeanors. Kalinoski Law Offices routinely handles cases involving offenses such as disorderly conduct, underage drinking, and public intoxication. These offenses are typically punishable by fines, community service, or a brief period of probation.

While not as serious as misdemeanors or felonies, summary offenses should still be taken seriously to avoid legal complications. If you’re charged with one, it’s best to consult with our proven summary offense lawyer about how to proceed with the case.

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

Our summary offense lawyer can help you better understand the consequences of being accused of these crimes.

Types of Summary Offenses

Summary offenses typically involve the following:

  • Disorderly Conduct: Disruptive or offensive behavior that causes public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm.
  • Public Intoxication: Being visibly drunk or under the influence of drugs in public.
  • Underage Drinking: Consuming or possessing alcohol while under the age of 21.
  • Harassment: Behavior or communication that causes distress or annoyance to another person.
  • Retail Theft: Taking merchandise without payment.
  • Trespassing: Entering or remaining on someone else’s property without permission.
  • Criminal mischief: Damaging or defacing another person’s property.
  • Petty theft: Stealing items of relatively low value.

If you’ve been accused of any of the above, working with an experienced summary offense lawyer can be highly advantageous.

How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help You?

A criminal defense lawyer plays a crucial role in defending individuals accused of misdemeanors and summary offenses. Kalinoski Law’s seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Scranton, PA routinely provides legal advice, ensuring that our clients’ rights are protected throughout the legal proceedings.

We gather evidence, negotiate plea bargains, and strive to obtain the best possible outcome – whether it’s reduced charges, minimized penalties, or complete dismissal of the charges. Through our knowledge and advocacy, we’ll help you navigate the complex legal system and provide you with a fair defense.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Scranton, PA

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