In general, a misdemeanor crime is less serious in nature than a felony. You may receive a lighter sentence if convicted of a misdemeanor than a felony. It is important to note, however, that even a misdemeanor conviction can result in jail time, significant fines, and other penalties. Some misdemeanor crimes even have mandatory minimum sentencing.
What Is a Misdemeanor?
Even though misdemeanors are less serious crimes than felonies, they can vary widely in nature, and some come with significant consequences. Most but not all DUIs are misdemeanors.
You could spend up to five years in jail following a misdemeanor conviction in Pennsylvania. In some cases, misdemeanors do not result in jail time but instead involve a sentence that includes:
- Community service
What Is a Felony?
Felonies are the most severe crimes and may — but do not always — involve violent acts. Felony convictions may result in some period of time in jail. Examples of felony charges include murder, rape, burglary, kidnapping, and arson. In some cases, a DUI may be a felony charge, as could certain theft crimes.
In addition to a prison sentence, a felony conviction often brings with it a large fine. Convicted felons also face other consequences in addition to their sentence. They cannot legally own a firearm or run for public office, and they may have a difficult time finding a job or getting a landlord to rent to them. Most jobs and leasing agencies require background checks.
Understanding the Possible Penalties of a Felony Charge in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law sets the maximum limits for how long someone convicted of a felony spends in jail. The statute breaks down felony charges by degree, with first-degree felony being the most serious and third-degree felony being less serious. It is important to note, though, that a third-degree felony is still a more serious charge than a first-degree misdemeanor.
The potential penalties for a felony conviction include:
- A felony of the first degree could result in more than ten years in prison, but less than 20 years in a state or federal high-security
- A felony of the second degree calls for not more than ten years in prison.
- A felony of the third degree comes with a penalty of not more than seven years in prison.
If there is no degree listed on a felony charge, it is a felony of the third degree.
Consequences of a Conviction for a Misdemeanor Crime
The penalties associated with a misdemeanor conviction vary widely depending on the severity of the offense, the discretion of the Judge who hears the case, and many other factors. Like felony charges, Pennsylvania also ranks misdemeanors by degree.
- A misdemeanor of the first degree is the most serious misdemeanor offense. A conviction calls for not more than five years in jail.
- A misdemeanor of the second degree calls for not more than two years in jail.
- A misdemeanor of the third degree, or a misdemeanor charge that does not specify the degree, calls for less than one year in jail.
Pennsylvania has another category of crimes, as well. Known as summary offenses, these are the most minor offenses. A conviction often calls for probation or community service, and there is a maximum penalty of not more than 90 days in county jail.
Find Out How a Montgomery County, PA Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
At McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., our criminal defense team helps those facing misdemeanor and felony charges in Montgomery County, PA and other areas nearby. We will review your case and help you understand the severity of the charges.
We understand how stressful it is to face arrest and criminal charges, and we will fight to protect your rights and represent your best interests. Call us today at 610-680-7842 to learn more about how we can help.