If you have been charged with a crime in Philadelphia, there are two general categories that the charge can fall under: misdemeanor or felony. There are several important differences between the two that you should be aware of if you have been accused of a misdemeanor in the city.
Misdemeanor Crimes: Less Serious Than Felonies, But Still Serious
The essential distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony in the state of Pennsylvania is how much jail time is on the line, should you get convicted: Misdemeanor charges carry up to five years behind bars, while felony charges carry more than five years.
The shorter jail stint is made to reflect the relatively lesser severity of a misdemeanor offense. While misdemeanors include charges of:
Felonies include accusations of darker and more violent conduct:
- Aggravated assault
However, just because misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies does not mean that they are light accusations that you can brush aside. With up to five years of your future at stake, raising an effective defense to protect your rights and interests is absolutely critical.
The Three Degrees of Misdemeanors in Pennsylvania
Misdemeanors are further classified into three degrees – first, second, and third. Each degree of misdemeanor comes with standardized penalties, though none of them can carry more than five years of jail time; this would make the offense a felony.
The least severe type of misdemeanor that you can face in Philadelphia – and, therefore, the least severe crime on the books – is a third-degree misdemeanor. If convicted of a third-degree misdemeanor, though, you could still face up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
Examples of third-degree misdemeanors include:
- Property theft of less than $50
- Disorderly conduct
A more severe type of criminal charge is for a second-degree misdemeanor. If convicted for one of these crimes in Pennsylvania, you could be sentenced to between one and two years in jail and be made to pay a fine of up to $5,000. Second-degree misdemeanors include:
The most severe type of misdemeanor is a first-degree misdemeanor. Convictions for these offenses come with a jail sentence of between 18 months and five years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. Examples include:
- Theft of between $200 and $2,000
- Indecent exposure to a child
Joseph D. Lento: Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of committing a misdemeanor in Philadelphia, it is not something to take lightly. The repercussions of not defending yourself against the charge can alter the course of your life.
That is why Joseph D. Lento represents the criminally accused – regardless of the misdemeanor charge – both inside and outside of the courtroom. Contact us online or by phone at 215-535-5353 to get the legal help you need to protect your rights and interests.