First Degree Misdemeanor
If you are presently charged with or under arrest for a first-degree misdemeanor in Philadelphia, PA or beyond, an experienced criminal attorney from our team at Fienman Defense can serve as your strong advocate. We understand the battle you are facing for your rights and freedom. You can depend on us to develop an intelligent and strategic defense on your behalf to help you minimize or eliminate the penalties you are facing. To set up a free case evaluation during which you can learn more about Pennsylvania offense classes, call our law office today at (215) 839-9529.
Classifying a First Degree Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania is certainly a lesser crime than a felony. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you may be subject to a range of penalties that include jail time, fines, probation, and community service. Misdemeanors are categorized in Pennsylvania into three distinct categories: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree. Among these misdemeanor categories, first-degree misdemeanor offenses are the most serious and carry the most severe penalties.
There are also misdemeanors in Pennsylvania that do not have sub classifications (i.e. first, second, or third). These misdemeanors carry their own sentencing guidelines. A first-degree misdemeanor lawyer can help you understand the penalties you may be facing regardless of the type of misdemeanor charge currently filed against you.
First Degree Misdemeanor Penalties and Offenses in Pennsylvania
If you are convicted of first-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, you will face the following penalties:
- Prison term of 2.5 to five years
- Maximum fine of $10,000
Although some crimes may be classified as higher or lower levels depending on the circumstances, some examples of common first-degree misdemeanors in Pennsylvania include:
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Selling or repairing an offensive weapon
- Simple assault by a person over 21 against a victim under 12
- Possessing instruments of crime
- Terroristic threats
- Indecent assault
- Luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure
- Prostitution for the fourth or subsequent time
- Theft or theft by deception when the items are valued between $200 and $2,000
- Retail theft (first or second offense) when the value of merchandise is $150 or more
- Access device fraud (when the stolen item is valued at more than $50, but less than $500)
- Identity theft (when the value of items taken is less than $2,000)
- Trademark counterfeiting (first offense)
- Possession of a firearm prohibited
- Possession of a weapon on school property
- Criminal coercion (abduction) with felonious threat or intent
- Indecent exposure to someone less than 16
- Obscene materials and performances
- Writing a bad check (where the check or order is $1,000 or more, but less than $75,000)
- Receiving stolen property valued at $200 to $2,000
- Agricultural vandalism (where the property loss is more than $1,000, but less than $5,000)
- Failure to report a fire or give a prompt fire alarm
Grading a First Degree Misdemeanor Sentence in Pennsylvania
A number of different factors contribute to the evaluation of a first-degree misdemeanor for sentencing purposes. The Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines establish an Offense Gravity Score (OGS) which is assigned a number. Higher OGS numbers correspond to more severe crimes.
The judge in any case is required to consider the Commonwealth’s sentencing guidelines when determining a proper sentence. Judges are not mandated under the law to impose the maximum available sentence for a particular crime. The judge must follow two factors under the sentencing guidelines. The first is the Offense Gravity Score as mentioned above. The second is the Prior Record Score (PRS). The PRS takes into consideration the defendant’s prior convictions, if any. These two factors combined give the judge a range of sentencing options which the judge may only move outside of if certain aggravating or mitigating factors are present.
In general, trial judges in Pennsylvania have discretion to hand down sentences that include probation or even community service at times in lieu of incarceration. However, some offenses in Pennsylvania carry mandatory minimum sentences to which the judge must adhere.
Collateral Consequences of a First Degree Misdemeanor Conviction
Regardless of the fact that a misdemeanor conviction is not as serious as a felony conviction, it still gives you a criminal record which can negatively affect your opportunities in life going forward – including educational and professional advancement opportunities.
Effective Defense Against First Degree Misdemeanor Charges
The majority of misdemeanors are adjudicated in smaller courts in Pennsylvania rather than the higher-level principal courts in the Commonwealth. Often, the sentences given out for even a first-degree misdemeanor charge are between one to several years in jail. As a law firm experienced in defending against first-degree misdemeanors on behalf of our clients, we know what it takes to combat the prosecution’s case effectively in a variety of scenarios.
We will carefully scrutinize the evidence in your case, checking the actions of police and prosecutors to ensure your constitutional rights were not violated. We also confirm whether or not law enforcement had any probable cause to search, seize, or arrest you.
We will evaluate the evidence carefully to develop the most effective arguments in your defense. This includes evaluating witness credibility and all circumstances surrounding your case and your actions.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Pennsylvania
There are significant penalties associated with first-degree misdemeanor offenses in Pennsylvania. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor crime, it is important to obtain strong legal representation as soon as possible. At Fienman Defense, a first-degree misdemeanor lawyer will evaluate your case, explain your options, and work to achieve the best possible result on your behalf. Call us today at (215) 839-9529, or send us a message through our contact form to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.