What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor Vs. Summary Offense?

Posted on November 3rd, 2020 in Criminal Charges

Being accused of a crime is a nerve-wracking experience regardless of what the charge is. But when you face a misdemeanor or summary offense, you may wonder what the difference is, or which one is a lesser penalty. At Kalinoski Law Offices, P.C., we work with you to understand the seriousness of your penalty and will do everything in our power to ensure that the sentence or penalty handed to you is the most favorable.

What is a Misdemeanor?

Less severe than a felony but still can result in prison time and hefty fines, a misdemeanor charge can be filed by any individual who feels that harm or damage was caused to them. Unlike felony charges, misdemeanors can also be dropped by the person who made the accusation. In the Keystone State, misdemeanors are broken into three categories:

  • First-Degree: This can result in a conviction of up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Such crimes include simple assault, stalking, multiple DUIs, theft of less than $2,000, and prostitution.
  • Second-Degree: Though lesser than the first-degree, this can result in a prison sentence up to two years and as much as a $5,000 fine. Crimes include shoplifting, criminal trespass, and impersonating a public servant.
  • Third-Degree: Punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines and includes crimes like disorderly conduct, loitering, possession of marijuana, and harassment.

While these penalties may not seem so bad, the reality is that the charge can grow depending on the facts of the case.

What is a Summary Offense?

Considered the most minor criminal offense, a summary offense is often called a non-traffic citation and typically will not go to court but rather is up to the discretion of the police officer.

These charges often result in a fine and can include such crimes as loitering, retail theft of small amounts, and not getting a license for your pet.

In some cases, a summary offense can lead to a criminal record and you may have to disclose it to an employer if they ask if you have any criminal convictions.

How do the penalties of each compare?

Obviously, summary offenses result in lesser penalties than misdemeanor charges but that doesn’t mean you should handle either alone. Remember that even a third-degree misdemeanor can impact your employment opportunities, hinder your ability to get a gun, or even access some types of government assistance.

Misdemeanor Vs. Summary Offenses in Pennsylvania: Kalinoski Law Offices

Know that your rights need to be protected no matter the charge. At Kalinoski Law Offices, P.C., our team is committed to protecting you in and out of court. Scranton criminal defense attorney Craig Kalinoski will use his knowledge of the community, law, tenacious negotiation skills, and commitment through trial preparation. Call (570) 207-4000 or use our contact form today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case during a free consultation.

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