Felony vs Misdemeanor in PA
In Pennsylvania, crimes are usually classified as either felonies or misdemeanors. A felony is a more serious offense under the state law, while misdemeanors are relatively minor crimes. However, both types of crimes can have serious and lasting consequences if you are convicted. If you are facing an accusation of a criminal act, you should be aware of the differences between felonies and misdemeanors and what kind of penalties may apply in each case.
What is a Felony in Pennsylvania?
Serious criminal acts, whether or not they involve violence, are generally classified as a felony. Examples include murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping, rape, theft, and arson. Sometimes even a seemingly less serious crime such as a DUI may be charged as a felony, if you injure or kill someone while driving drunk.
Penalties for a Felony Conviction in Pennsylvania
- First-degree felony: 10 to 20 years of jail time and a fine of up to $25,000
- Second-degree felony: 5 to 10 years of jail time and a fine of up to $25,000
- Third-degree felony: 3.5 to 7 years of jail time and a fine of up to $15,000
When the felony charge lists no degree, the penalties of a third-degree felony will apply in Pennsylvania. In addition to imprisonment and fines, a felony conviction in the state will have other consequences, such as inability to run for public office or legally own a firearm. Even getting a job gets harder for a convicted felon because employers usually run background checks.
Expungement of a Felony Conviction in Pennsylvania
In general, felony convictions cannot be expunged under Pennsylvania law, except under the following two circumstances:
- The convicted felon has been dead for three years.
- The convicted felon is at least 70 years of age, and has had no new conviction for an offense within the last 10 years after completing their sentence.
What is a Misdemeanor in Pennsylvania?
Misdemeanors are generally less serious crimes compared to felonies, but they could still result in jail time and significant fines if you are convicted. Examples include simple assault, multiple DUIs, stalking, shoplifting, railroad vandalism, open lewdness, among others.
Penalties for a Misdemeanor Conviction
- First-degree misdemeanor: 2.5 to 5 years of jail time and a fine of up to $10,000
- Second-degree misdemeanor: 1 to 2 years of jail time and a fine of up to $5,000
- Third-degree misdemeanor: 6 months to 1 year of jail time and a fine of up to $2,500
An ungraded misdemeanor charge would attract the same penalties as a third-degree misdemeanor.
Expungement of a Misdemeanor Conviction
The new law in Pennsylvania has relaxed the rules for expungement in misdemeanor convictions. Now if you have been convicted of a second or third-degree misdemeanor, which did not involve violence, you can seek expungement of your criminal record.
However, the eligibility condition is that you should have had no other convictions in the last 10 years if your original conviction was for a second-degree misdemeanor (and your age at that time was below 25), or 7 years if you were originally convicted of a third-degree misdemeanor.
Get Strong Legal Representation from an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
The top-rated legal team at the Law Offices of Basil D. Beck III in Greater Philadelphia is ready to fight for your defense if you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge. We will do everything possible under the ambit of law to protect your rights, and help you pursue the best legal options to obtain a more favorable outcome. Call us at 610-239-8870 to schedule your free and confidential consultation with our criminal defense attorneys today.