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First Degree Felony


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A felony of the first degree (F1) is the most serious classified offense you can commit.

Across the US, offenses are divided into felonies and misdemeanors, with felonies as the more serious offense. Felonies are further divided into different degrees. A first degree felony is more serious than a second degree.

If you are convicted of a felony of the first degree, you face as many as 20 years in prison. During that time, you will not only be deprived of your freedom but while incarcerated you will face problems that range from who will raise your children to who will support your family.

After they have served their sentences, felons have difficulty finding good jobs because many employers refuse to hire anyone with a felony on their criminal record. Felons can’t own firearms and they are not allowed to serve in the US military.

What A Felony Of The First Degree Means

A felony of the first degree has the harshest penalties of all:

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

Some crimes that can draw a felony of the first degree:

  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated assault on a police officer, prison employee or officer of a court

Grading A Sentence

Several factors play a role in determining the sentence for a felony of the first degree.

Under Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines, every offense is assigned an Offense Gravity Score (OGS). The OGS is represented by a number and the more serious the offense is, the higher the OGS.

The judge who sentences you will take into account a calculation based on the OGS and, if you have one, your prior criminal record. The lower your OGS and the fewer your prior convictions, the shorter your guideline sentence. Pennsylvania trial judges do have discretion and can decide to deviate from the guidelines due to aggravating or mitigating factors.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

In Pennsylvania, some crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences. This means a judge has to sentence you to at least the number of years in prison specified by the law and no fewer, even if there are mitigating factors.

How A Lawyer Can Help

Your lawyer can fully explain your charges, prepare an effective defense and look for any mitigating factors that can have a positive affect on sentencing. They will work with you to determine your best course of action.

Pennsylvania Offense Classes and Gravity Scores

Offense classes and gravity scores are defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 204, Chapter 303. Read the code here.

Questions? Contact us today.

If you are charged with a felony, you face some of the toughest punishment dealt out by the Pennsylvania courts. Fienman Defense has the skills and experience to help you avoid the harshest penalties.