What is a Summary Offense?
The most common type of citation that people receive is a summary offense or a non-traffic citation. These are considered minor crimes and usually result in fines rather than jail time or other more serious consequences. Although they are considered minor by the Pennsylvania legal system, they can negatively impact your life in that they will give you a criminal record, which can affect employment and education prospects. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys we have helped many clients in the Greensburg area that are dealing with summary offense charges. Top rated by the American Society of Legal Advocates, we have the expertise needed to help you with your summary offense. You can make an appointment for a free summary offense case evaluation at our downtown Greensburg office located nearby the Greensburg Amtrak Station by contacting us at 724-834-1275.
What to do When You Are Charged with Disorderly Conduct?
There are many activities that could be classified under Pennsylvania law as disorderly conduct. These charges typically stem from a person acting in a way that intentionally or recklessly causes public inconvenience, annoyance, or upset. Some examples of disorderly conduct offenses include:
- Violating noise bylaws
- Disturbing the peace
- Fighting, or engaging in violent conduct
- Using lewd or obscene language in public
- Making obscene gestures
The definition of disorderly conduct is quite broad as there are many situations that could be considered causing a nuisance to the general public; a loud house party, a bar fight, a protest, freaking out in a grocery store lineup and many more.
The penalty for being charged with disorderly conduct in Pennsylvania is up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. However, if prosecution can prove that you were trying to cause serious harm or danger to the general public the charge could be upgraded from summary offense to misdemeanor which carries penalties of up to a year in jail and a $2500 fine.
The prosecution will need to prove that there was both intent and knowledge of these kinds of offenses, which is why it is important when you have been charged with disorderly conduct to reach out to an experienced criminal defense lawyer near you.
Dealing with a Public Drunkenness Charge
The charge of public drunkenness in Pennsylvania comes into play when someone is openly intoxicated in a public space and causes harm or danger to themselves, other people, or causes property damage. What constitutes a public space? Any location that is open to the general public such as parks, malls, restaurants, sidewalks, etc. People’s property is considered private and not open to the public so a different charge of disorderly conduct would apply. For a first offender the penalty for public intoxication is up to $500, subsequent offenses can carry fines of up to $1000. To avoid an unnecessary criminal record that could affect your life negatively if you live in the Greensburg area and have been charged with public drunkenness don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys.
What Constitutes Harassment in the State of Pennsylvania?
There are many types of conduct that could be considered harassment in the state of Pennsylvania. Violent acts like kicking or hitting a person or following or stalking someone would be considered explicit acts of harassment under Pennsylvania law. Other acts such as calling or texting someone incessantly, at inconvenient hours, or using threats while communicating can be considered harassment as well if intent to annoy, torment or embarrass can be proven. This can include communicating in language that is lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene, or sharing pictures, drawings or caricatures that would be lewd or embarrassing in nature. With the advances in technology the means of harassing someone have been expanded to include:
- Social Media Platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat
- And more
When you have been charged with a summary offense of harassment in Pennsylvania you could receive a penalty of up to 90 days in jail. However, this charge could be upgraded to a misdemeanor depending on the level of maliciousness of the act, the length of time of the behaviour, or whether it is a first offense or not. If the charge is upgraded the penalties include up to one year in jail and a $2500 fine.
When You’ve Been Charged with Shoplifting
In the state of Pennsylvania shoplifting is also known as retail theft, and includes activities such as taking merchandise from a store without paying, swapping the price tags or labels of one item to another to pay less, removing tags, labels or security tags with the intent of leaving without paying, or having the item undercharged.
There are different levels of retail theft that a person can be charged with depending on the circumstances of the situation. These range from a summary offense to a third degree felony charge. The breakdown is as follows:
Summary Offense – Theft of merchandise totaling less than $150 and first offense. The penalty for this offense is up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.
Second Degree Misdemeanor – Theft of merchandise totaling less than $150 with a record of one prior offense. The penalty for this offense is up to two years in jail and $5000 in fines.
First Degree Misdemeanor – Theft of merchandise totaling $150 or more and first offense. The penalty for this offense is up to seven years in jail and $15,000 in fines.
Third Degree Felony – Theft of merchandise totaling $2000 or more, theft with a firearm, or theft with a record of two or more convictions (price of merchandise is irrelevant)
If you have been charged with shoplifting in the state of Pennsylvania there are options. For first-time offenders or low totaling amounts there is the possibility of a person going through a pretrial diversion program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition to avoid criminal prosecution. Or an experienced criminal defense lawyer near you can help with arranging a plea bargain.
Other Summary Offenses You Can Be Charged With
There are a number of infractions that fall under the classification of summary charges. Here at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys we handle a wide range of criminal cases including:
- Underage Drinking
- Service Theft
- Public Urination
- Minor Property Damage
- Dangerous Burning
- Posting Advertising without Consent
- Causing A False Alarm
- And more
See here for a comprehensive list of summary offense charges in the state of Pennsylvania.
Being charged with a summary offense can have a negative impact on your life; restricting employment opportunities, or your ability to move freely (banned from stores or public places) and cause a sense of shame and embarrassment. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys we have years of experience helping clients in the Greensburg area deal with summary offense charges. Contact our office, conveniently located in downtown Greensburg, just down the street from The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, to set up your free case evaluation today. 724-834-1275