People often think of misdemeanors as criminal offenses that are not that serious and don’t need to be defended against as vigorously as felony charges. Although it is true that misdemeanors are a less severe classification of criminal offenses, the punishment for a misdemeanor conviction can still involve significant incarceration and fines. Additionally, the resulting criminal record will have a serious negative impact on your short-term and long-term future, regardless of whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, you should not treat it lightly.
Any criminal charge should be taken seriously, including misdemeanors. If you’ve been charged with a crime in the Pittsburgh area, you need legal assistance right away from an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the criminal justice system in the area well. Waiting to get representation may result in less favorable results later.
Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC’s Pittsburgh misdemeanor attorneys as soon as possible at (412) 281-2146.
Classification of Misdemeanors
The Pennsylvania state legislature has adopted a scheme for classifying misdemeanors as either first, second, or third degree depending on the severity of the offense. Each degree has increasingly harsh penalties. While other states limit the punishment for misdemeanors to no more than a year of jail time, Pennsylvania misdemeanors may result in several years of incarceration.
The punishment for a misdemeanor conviction depends on the degree of the misdemeanor charge involved. Under the Pennsylvania Code, misdemeanor penalties include:
- Third-degree misdemeanors may result in up to one-year incarceration and up to $2,000 in fines. These crimes would include shoplifting (retail theft), serious forms of disorderly conduct involving the intent to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience, selling alcohol to underage individuals, and open lewdness.
- Second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to two years of incarceration and up to $5,000 in fines. These misdemeanors include certain crimes of fraud involving public service, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment, and property arson.
- First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to five years of incarceration and up to $10,000 in fines. Pennsylvania includes the crimes of stalking, endangering a child, or repeated prostitution (fourth or subsequent offense) within the umbrella of first-degree misdemeanors.
Pennsylvania has certain misdemeanors that are “ungraded” under the Pennsylvania code. For example, simple possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana is an ungraded misdemeanor under the Pennsylvania Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device, and Cosmetic Act. If convicted, you may be sentenced to up to 30 days of jail time and a $500 fine. You may also get a driver’s license suspension of up to two years depending on whether it is a first offense or a subsequent offense. Additionally, the statute also classifies a first DUI offense as an ungraded misdemeanor with a mandatory term of six months’ probation, $300 fine, and other conditions.
Ungraded misdemeanors may involve less time in jail; however, they can still result in other serious penalties. Fines and court costs can be extensive. Community service, treatment programs, and restitution are also common repercussions.
The Defense You Need – Pittsburgh Misdemeanor Attorneys
Misdemeanor charges may not be as serious as felonies, but there is still a risk of significant penalties for a conviction. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor in the Pittsburgh area, you need someone who can advocate for your interests and help protect your rights against law enforcement and prosecutorial overreach. The sooner you get an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, the better your chances for a favorable outcome to your case.
Don’t hesitate to call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC’s Pittsburgh misdemeanor attorneys at (412) 281-2146 for an initial evaluation of your case. Our attorneys will take the time to listen to you, closely examine the facts and evidence in your case, and implement an effective strategy for defending your case.