Serving Scranton, Tunkhannock and Wyoming County
As with all states across the country, Pennsylvania grades criminal offenses as either misdemeanors or felonies. Felonies are considered the more serious offenses and are further subdivided into different degrees from first to third in decreasing order of severity. Additionally, certain felonies in Pennsylvania are not included in the degree categories. You should seek the aid of an felony defense attorney if you are being investigated or the state has charged you with a felony. The Peters Law Firm is here to help you throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Felonies by Degrees
The most serious classified offenses are first-degree felonies. Those convicted may spend up to twenty years of incarceration and pay up to $25,000 in fines. Robbery, Burglary, Rape, Kidnapping, and Voluntary Manslaughter are all examples of first-degree felonies.
Next are second-degree felonies. Those convicted may serve up to ten years of incarceration and pay up to $25,000 in fines. Burglary when there is no one present in the place, statutory sexual assault and false imprisonment of a minor are all examples of second-degree felonies.
Third-degree felonies are the least serious of the types of felonies. Those convicted face up to seven years of incarceration and up to $15,000 in fines. Examples of third-degree felonies include the possession of Child Pornography, Terroristic Threatening, Bribery, and Theft where the amount taken is greater than $2000, among others.
The most severe crimes in Pennsylvania are not classified according to the different degrees of felonies and have their specific sentencing guidelines. These include First-Degree and Second-Degree Murder and Voluntary Manslaughter. These offenses have their penalties. For example, first-degree murder carries either capital punishment or life in prison. Second-degree murder has a mandatory lifetime incarceration sentence. Drug trafficking offenses are also unclassified felonies and have different sentencing ramifications depending on the type and weight of the drug.
Pennsylvania courts determine the appropriate sentence in a case based on sentencing guidelines. The guidelines set forth a standard range of possible sentences that a judge may choose and also allow the judge to consider increases or decreases in the range based upon the pretense of mitigating or aggravating circumstances. The Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission crafts the guidelines for each offense.
The guidelines provide for two scores that apply to a particular case that determine the sentence range for that case. First is the offense gravity score, which represents the seriousness of the offense. The gravity score ensures that someone who committed a more severe offense receives a longer sentence than those who committed less serious crimes. The second score is the prior criminal record score based on a defendant’s criminal history. As a general rule, all offenses with the exception of First-Degree and Second-Degree Murder are assigned an offense gravity score between 1 and 14. One is the least serious and 15 is the highest.
The presence of certain mitigating factors may result in a shorter sentence. Mitigating factors may include rehabilitation, cooperation with law enforcement, an established record of employment, strong family support, and a show of remorse.
The Peters Law Firm will educate you on the the important matters pertaining to your case so that you can understand and assist as the case moves forward. We will provide you with an excellent felony defense attorney throughout the criminal defense process against felony and misdemeanor charges in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area. In the Scranton area, contact us at (570) 963-1610, Tunkhannock and Wyoming County at (570) 836-0700 or throughout Northeast Pennsylvania at our main office in Clarks Summit by calling (570) 585-0707 or by visiting us. We can provide you with an initial consultation where we will take the time to listen to the facts and help you figure out what your next step should be.