Being charged with a crime is a serious matter – even more so when facing felony allegations. If you have been arrested, you need the immediate help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights. Our Pittsburgh felony attorneys have represented clients in local courts, and we fight hard to get favorable outcomes.
Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 for a free initial consultation of your case.
What Crimes Are Felonies in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania classifies crimes into distinct categories by severity under Pa. Code §18.106. Each type has corresponding punishments and consequences that may be applied if a defendant is convicted. Some of the most severe crimes are felonies.
It’s important to note that murders are categorized separately in Pennsylvania. First-degree murder, second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and other types of murder are not considered felonies. However, they also have significant penalties that can be worse than those for crimes categorized as felonies.
Felonies of the first degree (F1) are crimes that can result in a penalty of between 10 and 20 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000. These crimes include:
- Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
- Arson that endangers a person
- Theft of property worth $500,000 or more
- Drug manufacturing and distribution
Felonies of the second degree (F2) can result in a penalty of between five and ten years in prison and a fine up to $25,000. These crimes include:
- Aggravated assault
- Indecent assault
- Sexual assault
- Involuntary manslaughter
- Burglary (where no person is in the structure)
- Theft of property worth between $100,000 and $500,000
Third Degree Felonies
Felonies of the third degree can result in a penalty of a prison term between three and a half and seven years and a fine up to $15,000. These crimes include:
- Certain gun crimes
- Theft of property worth between $2,000 and $100,000
- Possession of child pornography
- Minor drug offenses
Felony Penalties in Pennsylvania
In addition to time in prison and significant fines, there are other penalties and consequences associated with being convicted of a felony in Pennsylvania. Your freedoms as a citizen may be restricted. You may face deportation or other immigration consequences if you are not a citizen.
If you are convicted of a felony, you may be restricted from:
- Owning a firearm
- Serving on a jury
- Getting government benefits
- Obtaining financial aid
- Running for public office
- Obtaining a professional license
Mandatory Minimum Penalties in Pittsburgh
While felonies have maximum potential sentences, many also used to have mandatory minimum penalties. For example, rape, a first-degree felony, used to have a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years. Therefore, the final sentence for rape could be anywhere from five years up to a maximum of 20 years.
Mandatory Minimums Were a Controversial Decision
Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentences were controversial. In 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (following a U.S. Supreme Court decision) ruled that the process used by the state to impose mandatory minimums was unconstitutional.
Mandatory minimum sentences disproportionately impact people of color, overly penalize people accused of low-level offenses, and incentivize the perversion of justice. Offenders who plead guilty to avoid the harshest penalties are still stuck with arbitrary time in prison even when they may be innocent.
Some Still in Favor of Reinstating Mandatory Minimums
Despite the ruling against mandatory minimums, some in Pennsylvania support reinstating them. This would take discretion from judges and give it to the prosecutors. Judges could not consider individual factors, such as mitigating circumstances, when applying sentences.
Instead, the prosecutor would select which crime to charge and rely on the mandatory minimum to stick an arbitrary prison sentence on the defendant.
Pennsylvania criminal laws also have additional provisions that may make a felony sentence harsher depending on the facts of the crime. These are called “sentence enhancements.” If certain factors are involved in a crime, incarceration time or fines may increase.
Standard sentence enhancements include:
- Possession and use of a deadly weapon
- Youth/school proximity
- Criminal gang involvement
- Age of the victim
- Relationship to human trafficking
While these sentence enhancements may aggravate the crime and increase penalties, your attorney can also present mitigating circumstances that may reduce your liabilities. That’s why it is essential to work with a lawyer who is familiar with Pennsylvania criminal law and understands how to use it to benefit you.
Call a Pittsburgh Felony Attorney Right Away
You should act immediately if you or a loved one has been charged with a felony. Don’t wait until you are sentenced to years behind bars. An experienced Pittsburgh felony lawyer can evaluate your case and build strong defenses to support your freedom. No matter what happens, you have rights, and we will protect them.
Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC has helped countless people in your situation. Call us today at (412) 281-2146 for a free initial case consultation.
Worgul, Sarna & Ness proudly serves clients throughout Western PA. If you are under investigation or have been charged with a felony crime in Pennsylvania, our team has offices in: