Serious crimes carry serious consequences. If you’ve been charged with a crime, the first thing you need to understand is that the prosecution is not on your side. Our criminal justice system is designed to be adversarial, meaning that they want a conviction, and will work against you to get it.
Lehigh Valley criminal defense attorney Jenna Fliszar helps people face their criminal charges, for both minor offenses and serious crimes. She uses her knowledge, experience, and legal skills to help you get the best possible result because she knows this is your future is at stake.
Felonies in Pennsylvania
Most people recognize the term “felony” – these are typically very serious crimes such as burglary, murder, or assault. Possible penalties will depend on the classification of the crime; first to third degree.
PENNSYLVANIA FELONY CRIMES
Felony crimes in Pennsylvania are categorized as Felony Murder, Felony in the 1st Degree (F1), Felony in the 2nd Degree (F2), or Felony in the 3rd Degree (F3) or Ungraded Felony, which is the same as an F3. The degree is based on the “seriousness” of the crime. The minimum and maximum penalties for a felony conviction depend on the degree.
Murder is a felony in Pennsylvania. Offenses include murder, murder of an unborn child, and murder of a law enforcement officer. Felony murder is further separated into a crime of the 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree.
Murder in the first degree is a capital offense in Pennsylvania. A capital offense is a crime punishable by death. Murder in the first degree carries a penalty of life in prison or death. Murder in the second degree or first degree murder of an unborn child carries a sentence of life in prison.
Murder in the third degree carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison. Attempted murder, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit murder where serious bodily injury occurs carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. If serious bodily injury does not occur, the maximum penalty for attempted murder is 20 years in prison.
However, first degree murder for a person under the age of 18 will not carry the death sentence. A person who is 15 years old or older at the time they committed first-degree murder can be sentenced to a minimum term of 35 years in prison up to a maximum of life imprisonment. A person who is under the age of 15 at the time of committing 1st degree murder will be sentenced to a minimum term of 25 years to life in prison.
A felony in the 1st degree is the most serious felony criminal charge in Pennsylvania. The penalties for a 1st degree felony conviction include from 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. This includes crimes such as:
Felonies also carry repercussions that extend beyond the criminal justice system. Even after someone has served their time in jail and paid any fines, they will be labeled a felon and have limitations on their freedoms for years to come. If you have been convicted of a felony in Pennsylvania, you may have restrictions on:
Running for public office
Owning or possessing a firearm (if convicted of a violent crime)
Voting (while serving time in prison)
Serve on a jury
Obtain college financial aid
Get government benefits
Regardless of the degree of felony conviction, it is also more difficult for felons to find a job, join the military, find a place to live, and enter certain professions. This applies to first-degree felonies, second-degree felonies, and third-degree felonies.
Misdemeanor crimes are generally less serious than felony offenses; however, they can still result in mandatory minimum prison time and expensive fines. Misdemeanors, like felonies, are divided by degree, from 1st degree to 3rd degree. Ungraded misdemeanors are usually the same as M3.
A misdemeanor in the 1st degree is the most serious misdemeanor criminal charge in Pennsylvania. The penalties for a 1st degree misdemeanor conviction include from 2.5 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. This includes crimes such as:
Assault of a sports official
Multiple DUI offenses
Theft of property worth at least $200 but less than $2,000
A conviction for a misdemeanor in the 3rd degree in Pennsylvania includes from 6 months to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. This includes crimes such as:
Possession of marijuana
Loitering and prowling at night
Theft of property worth less than $50
PENNSYLVANIA SUMMARY OFFENSES
A summary offense is a lesser crime than a felony or misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a summary offense includes 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. However, in most cases, a conviction for a summary offense will result in a fine but not carry any jail time.
Summary offenses are the most common criminal charges in Pennsylvania. They are often referred to as a “non-traffic citation.” While they generally do not result in jail time, it could lead to a criminal record and you may have to disclose it if an employer asks if you have any criminal convictions. Some examples of summary offenses include: