4 Facts About Fighting Pennsylvania Misdemeanor Charges
Pennsylvania has the same general structure of the federal government and other US states with classifying crimes as misdemeanors or felonies, but the laws are still very different. In the state statute on classes of offenses, a person is charged with a felony for more serious offenses, while misdemeanor charges are less severe. However, all criminal cases can have a significant impact on your freedoms, wallet, and future.
It is a mistake to make light of the matter simply because you have been arrested for a misdemeanor instead of a felony. You might be shocked to learn a key fact about Pennsylvania misdemeanors: The potential punishment is so harsh that it could exceed lower level felonies in other states. Retaining a Lehighton misdemeanor defense lawyer should be a top priority if you were recently arrested, as getting legal help is critical from the earliest stages of the criminal process. In addition, it is helpful to review some other facts about misdemeanors in Pennsylvania.
- Misdemeanors are categorized into degrees. Besides distinguishing them from felonies, there are additional classes within the group of misdemeanors.
- A first degree misdemeanor is the most serious, and this category includes stalking, assault, and theft up to $2,000.
- Second degree misdemeanors are less serious, so you could face charges for theft or shoplifting property valued at less than $200.
- The lowest level crime in this class is third degree misdemeanor, which includes such crimes as marijuana possession and disorderly conduct.
- The penalties for a conviction are extremely severe. If you are convicted of a first degree misdemeanor, a judge could sentence you to a maximum of 5 years’ incarceration. A conviction for a second degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 2 years in jail, while a third degree misdemeanor means a maximum of 1 year imprisonment.
Keep in mind that a judge can sentence you to a lower penalty as allowed by law. These are the maximums for Pennsylvania’s indeterminate sentencing.
- You may have defenses to avoid a conviction. There are defenses to every crime, and it is up to you to present those that are applicable to your case. One important defense is unlawful search and seizure by police, a violation of your civil rights. Other options include:
- Lack of intent;
- Mistake; and,
- Insufficient evidence.
- There are other options for resolving criminal charges. You might not have a complete defense, but you may take advantage of other strategies to minimize the impact of a misdemeanor case. Plea bargaining could enable you to take first degree misdemeanor charges down to a second or third degree, lowering your potential punishment. Other possibilities include probation, paying fines, and drug treatment.
Reach Out to a Carbon County Criminal Defense Attorney Right Away
This information about misdemeanor offenses in Pennsylvania is helpful, but it takes skilled legal representation to prepare a solid defense strategy. For details on how our team can help, please contact the Law Office of Kim M. Gillen, P.C. We can schedule a case evaluation at our offices in Lehighton, PA to review your circumstances.