If you are charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, the possible penalties will depend on the seriousness of the crime, the victims involved, and your criminal history. Felony offenses are the most serious crimes, followed by misdemeanors, and summary offenses. Crimes are classified based on degree, from first degree to third degree, with first-degree offenses being the most serious.
The mandatory minimum and maximum penalties for a criminal conviction depend on the classification of crime. In order of most serious to least serious, Pennsylvania crime classifications include:
- Felony (1st degree) (F1)
- Felony (2nd degree) (F2)
- Felony (3rd degree) (F3)
- Ungraded Felony (F3)
- Misdemeanor (1st degree)(M1)
- Misdemeanor (2nd degree)(M2)
- Misdemeanor (3rd degree)(M3)
- Ungraded Misdemeanor (Same as M3)
- Summary Offenses
Each criminal classification includes sentencing guidelines, which the court considers in determining the appropriate sentence for an offender. This includes considering the Offense Gravity Score, Prior Record Score, and any enhancements, and aggravating or mitigating circumstances.
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:
- Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
- Arson endangering persons
- Theft of property worth $500,000 or more
A conviction for a felony in the 2nd degree in Pennsylvania includes from 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. This includes crimes such as:
- Sexual assault
- Involuntary manslaughter of a victim under 12 years old
- Burglary (with no one in the structure)
- Indecent assault
- Aggravated assault
- Theft of property worth at least $100,000 but less than $500,000
A conviction for a felony in the 3rd degree in Pennsylvania includes from 3.5 to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. This includes crimes such as:
- Possession of child pornography
- Possession with intent to distribute
- Certain gun crimes
- Theft of property worth more than $2,000 but less than $100,000
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:
- 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 conviction for a misdemeanor in the 2nd degree in Pennsylvania includes from 1 to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. This may include crimes such as:
- Impersonating a public servant
- Theft of property worth at least $50 but less than $200
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
- Open lewdness
- Railroad vandalism
- Loitering and prowling at night
- Theft of property worth less than $50
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:
- Disorderly conduct
- Underage drinking
Being convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime can carry harsh penalties that extend outside of the criminal justice system, affecting your ability to find work, find a place to live, own a gun, and access government benefits. Criminal defense attorney David J. Cohen is devoted to representing the people of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas. Contact the David J. Cohen Law Firm, LLC today for a consultation.