First Degree Felony


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Throughout the United States, crimes are divided into various categories based on severity. Two of these major categories are felonies and misdemeanors. Pennsylvania divides felonies into three separate degrees, with first-degree felony as the most serious. Being convicted of a first-degree felony is a life-changing situation that can potentially land you in prison for years when the maximum penalty is imposed. Beyond the legal consequences, you may face other collateral consequences that will make your day-to-day life difficult.

If you have been charged with a first-degree felony in Pennsylvania, you need an attorney on your side right away. At Fienman Defense, we are experienced at providing vigorous and intelligent representation for our clients facing felony charges. To request a free consultation during which you can learn more about Pennsylvania offense classes and the charges you are facing, call us today at (215) 839-9529.

First-Degree Felony Penalties and Offenses in Pennsylvania

A first-degree felony conviction in Pennsylvania carries these possible penalties:

  • Up to 20 years in prison
  • Up to $25,000 in fines

Examples of first-degree felonies in Pennsylvania include:

Grading a First-Degree Felony Sentence in Pennsylvania

Multiple factors are applied in order to determine an appropriate sentence for a first-degree felony in Pennsylvania.

First-degree felonies are evaluated for sentencing by a judge based on the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines. These guidelines include two elements that judges are required to consider when deciding on sentences. One of these elements is the Offense Gravity Score (OGS), and the other is the Prior Record Score (PRS). The OGS measures the severity of the crime. The PRS reflects the past criminal history of the convicted defendant. Using these two scores, a judge can find the recommended range of sentencing for that particular crime. However, the judge may veer from the recommended sentencing boundaries if other factors are present in the case.

Mandatory Minimum First-Degree Felony Sentences

Some Pennsylvania felony crimes demand mandatory minimum sentences under the law. In these cases, the court is required to impose a minimum penalty, regardless of any mitigating circumstances or factors.

For example, a person convicted of rape is required to serve a five-year minimum prison sentence. Other crimes that often carry mandatory minimum sentences include crimes against children or the elderly, drug crimes, and crimes of violence.

Previous Offenses Affect the Level of the Charge and Sentence

If you are convicted of a new crime and also have a record of previous criminal convictions, you are subject to additional penalties under Pennsylvania law. For example, if you are convicted of a new violent crime and already have a previous violent crime conviction on your record, the court is required to impose a minimum 10-year prison sentence for the new offense. In the same situation, if you have two or more previous violent crime convictions, the court must impose a minimum 25-year prison sentence.

Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania for Felony Charges

Pennsylvania may only prosecute an individual if charges are filed within the Commonwealth’s statute of limitations for that particular crime. Certain crimes do not have a statute of limitations, such as felonies connected with first or second-degree murder. Other crimes, depending on their nature, carry a statute of limitations of anywhere between two and 12 years.

Defense Against First-Degree Felony Charges

At Fienman Defense, we work to provide you with vigorous criminal defense. We do so through a detailed investigation of the facts of your case and analyzing the evidence, including statements offered by law enforcement. If your rights have been violated in either the investigative or arrest process, we work aggressively to have your charges dropped or reduced.

Using our substantial resources, we compile the evidence needed to build a robust defense on your behalf that puts you in the most advantageous position possible before the jury and/or judge to establish reasonable doubt regarding the charges against you.

Contact an Experienced First Degree Felony Lawyer in Pennsylvania

The penalties associated with a first-degree felony are extremely serious in Pennsylvania. If you are currently charged with an offense of this nature, having the strongest and most capable representation to build your defense is vital. You can count on Fienman Defense to defend you vigorously against these charges and work toward the best possible outcome on your behalf.

To arrange an initial, free consultation with a first-degree felony lawyer, call us today at (215) 839-9529, or reach us through our contact form.