Even Misdemeanor Charges Carry an Impact

Even though a misdemeanor is a lesser charge than a felony, it carries weight. For example, you face having a criminal record that follows you for the rest of your life. So, talking with an experienced misdemeanor lawyer is essential to ensure proper defense.

Our law firm is a recognized leader in Montgomery County, Bucks County, and the greater Philadelphia area. The Best Lawyers in America© edition consistently cites our attorneys. It recently awarded 11 attorneys in its latest edition.

So, if you face charges, it pays to consult with a misdemeanor lawyer at our law offices. They can help devise a defense strategy against your charges.

Misdemeanors Versus Other Crimes

Most state criminal justice systems divide their crimes into different categories depending on the seriousness of the crime. Typically, the amount of jail time defines those categories. The major categories include:

  • Infractions
  • Misdemeanor crimes
  • Felony crimes

Infractions are the least serious for violating a rule, ordinance, or law. In most jurisdictions, they carry no jail time. Equally important, they don't appear on your criminal record. Penalties include a fine or community service.

Misdemeanors involve non-violent criminal offenses like shoplifting, DUI, vandalism, reckless driving, simple assault, or drug possession for first-time offenders. Federal and Pennsylvania laws carry potential jail terms of up to five years. So, you can see why a criminal defense lawyer makes sense.

Felonies include aggravated assault, domestic violence with bodily injury, sexual assault, and murder. They're the most serious crimes, with a first-degree conviction leading to up to 20 years in prison. Felony charges and prosecution can also carry a fine of up to $25,000.

A Misdemeanor Lawyer May Help Reduce Your Sentence

Even if you plan to plead guilty, a misdemeanor attorney may help reduce your sentence. Misdemeanor sentences can have far-reaching consequences.

Pennsylvania divides misdemeanor criminal cases into three degrees, with a maximum penalty set by degree. For example, PA courts can sentence you to five years in prison, with fines up to $10,000 for an M1 misdemeanor.

Here's a look at the consequences of various misdemeanor convictions.

Jail Sentences for a Misdemeanor

  • First-degree misdemeanor (M1): Five years
  • Second-degree misdemeanor (M2): Two years
  • Third-degree misdemeanor (M3): One year

Fines for a Misdemeanor

Misdemeanor fines can't be higher than twice your financial gain from the crime. Maximum penalties for misdemeanors include:

  • First-degree misdemeanor:$10,000
  • Second-degree misdemeanor:$5,000
  • Third-degree misdemeanor:$2,500

It's important to note that maximum sentences and fines for misdemeanor offenses can vary based on the crime. It's best to consult with a misdemeanor lawyer to understand the severity of your charges.

Can You Expunge a Misdemeanor Conviction in PA?

The Clean Slate Act is a new Pennsylvania law that expands criminal record sealing to include more types of offenses. Some of those offenses include first-degree misdemeanors. However, courts now seal some first-degree misdemeanors and simple assault crimes that are second or third-degree misdemeanors.

Crimes that are eligible for expungement include the following:

  • First-degree misdemeanors with jail sentences of less than two years
  • Second-degree misdemeanors
  • Third-degree misdemeanors

Some convictions remain ineligible, however, including:

  • Firearms and weapons offenses
  • Sexual acts
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Intimidation or retaliation against witnesses
  • Crimes with jail sentences of two or more years
  • Multiple convictions with at least a one-year sentence

Talking to a criminal defense lawyer can provide more insights into your eligibility for expunging a conviction.

How Can a Misdemeanor Lawyer Assist?

Your future is invaluable. While a misdemeanor may seem minor in the grand scheme of the law, you risk facing maximum penalties without the proper legal guidance. Here's how working with a lawyer can be pivotal when charged with a misdemeanor:

  • Expert Guidance: Understanding the legal maze can be daunting. However, a criminal defense lawyer can clarify your rights, potential defenses, and the legal process.
  • Negotiation: Experienced lawyers can possibly negotiate for reduced charges, lighter sentences, or even the dismissal of your case.
  • Post-conviction: Even after a sentence, some lawyers can assist in expunging records or guiding you through the parole or probation process.

Facing a Misdemeanor in Bucks or Montgomery County, PA?

If you or a loved one faces misdemeanor charges in Pennsylvania, protect your future by talking with an experienced misdemeanor lawyer at our firm. We have law offices in Norristown and Doylestown, PA.

Time is of the essence, and every moment counts. So reach out to us today and ensure you're on the path to justice and peace of mind.

Misdemeanors Attorneys

John S. Han

John Han | Criminal Defense lawyer | Greater Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Criminal defense attorney John S. Han represents clients facing investigation and prosecution by both State and Federal Law Enforcement authorities for felony criminal violations.

Michael A. Luongo

Michael A. Luongo business litigation attorney in High Swartz's doylestown law office

Bucks county Business Litigation attorney Michael A. Luongo also practices personal injury, criminal defense, and in our PA municipal practice.

Shari R. Gelfont Williams

shari gelfont williams at high swartz llp doylestown law office

Bucks County Attorney with 25+ years' experience in litigation with a focus on family law, estate planning, and business disputes.

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