Every state has implemented ways of classifying crimes into distinct categories by severity of the offense and the corresponding punishment. State legislatures typically designate more serious offenses as felonies. Pennsylvania is no different. The state classifies felonies as either first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree felonies, and felony penalties in Pennsylvania are severe. Notably, the state treats murder separately with its own classification scheme.
Being charged with a crime is a serious matter – even more so when the crime is a felony. If you have been arrested, you need the immediate help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights. Our Pittsburgh felony attorneys have represented clients in local Pittsburgh courts, and we frequently obtain favorable outcomes.
Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 for a free initial consultation of your case.
The sentence for a felony conviction depends on the degree of the felony. Under the Pennsylvania Code, felonies may receive the following punishments:
- Third-degree felonies are the least severe and are punishable by no more than seven years of prison time and up to $15,000 in fines. Common third-degree felonies include major thefts, bribery, firearms charges, and drug offenses.
- Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and up to $25,000 in fines. These offenses may include, for example, burglary, sexual assault offenses, and arson.
- First-degree felonies are the most severe and are punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and up to $25,000 in fines. These include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, drug manufacturing or distribution charges, or rape.
Under the code, there are certain felonies that don’t have a specified degree of classification. These are defined with their own specific sentences. For example, first and second-degree murder are classified separately from other felonies and carry the harshest punishment under state law. These two crimes may be punishable by death or life imprisonment.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Although felony crimes have potential maximum sentences, some crimes also have a mandatory minimum penalty. For example, rape, which is a first-degree felony, includes a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years. Thus, the final sentence may be anywhere between the mandatory minimum of five years up to the maximum of 20 years.
Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentences are controversial and may be unconstitutional. If you’ve been arrested and threatened with a mandatory minimum sentence, seek the help of a Pittsburgh felony attorney to defend your rights against accusations.
The Pennsylvania Code also has additional provisions that may make a felony sentence even harsher. These are called sentencing enhancements, and if involved in the crime, incarceration or fines may be increased. They include the following:
- Deadly weapon possession
- Youth / School proximity
- Criminal gang involvement
- Third-degree murder of a victim younger than age 13
- Sexual abuse of children
- Human trafficking
Consulting a Pittsburgh Felony Attorney
Felonies are the most serious kinds of offenses under Pennsylvania law. Being charged with a felony is an incredibly stressful and vulnerable experience, and a conviction can result in years behind bars. Additionally, it can result in long-lasting consequences for your life, and prevent you from future employment opportunities, strain your relationships, and keep you from living a normal life.
The decisions you make about how to defend against a felony charge can determine the outcome of your case. Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC’s Pittsburgh felony attorneys at (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation today so we can help you protect your rights and implement an effective strategy for defending your case.