Pennsylvania Misdemeanor Lawyer
Experienced representation when your liberty and reputation are at stake
A conviction for a misdemeanor crime can change your life in many ways. You could be sentenced to prison. You’ll have to pay a large fine. You will have a criminal record that will likely be disclosed on background checks by employers, apartment complexes, and loan companies. If the misdemeanor involves a traffic offense, you may lose your driving privileges.
At the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, our seasoned Central PA criminal defense lawyers assert every possible legal and factual defense available. We understand when to negotiate with police officers and prosecutors and when to cross-examine the officer’s testimony and when to contest prosecutorial actions. We seek to suppress evidence that was illegally obtained. We work to show there is a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense. Our lawyers fight for defendants from the initial arrest through every stage of the criminal process, including a jury trial.
What are the types of misdemeanor crimes in Pennsylvania?
The most severe misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania is a 1st-degree misdemeanor. The least serious (but still serious) misdemeanor is a 3rd-degree misdemeanor.
Types of 1st-degree misdemeanors. Common 1st-degree misdemeanors include:
- Simple assault
- Terroristic threats
- Multiple driving under the influence convictions
- Theft – where the value of the property taken is between $200 and $2,000
Types of 2nd-degree misdemeanors. Criminal offenses in this category include:
- Theft – where the value of the property taken is between $50 and $200
- Impersonating a public servant
- Criminal trespass
A fine of up to $5,000 can be imposed for each misdemeanor of the second-degree – in addition to the prison sentence.
Types of 3rd-degree misdemeanors. Common 3rd-degree misdemeanors include:
- Possession of marijuana.
- Criminal mischief
- Disorderly conduct
- Harassment including cyber-harassment
- Nighttime loitering
- Theft – where the value of the property taken is less than $50
In addition to jail time, a conviction can result in a fine of up to $2,500.
What are the sentences for misdemeanors?
According to the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, the sentences of imprisonment for misdemeanors are as follows: the maximum prison sentences are:
1st-degree misdemeanor. Up to 5 years.
2nd-degree misdemeanor. Up to 2 years.
3rd-degree misdemeanor. Up to 1 year.
Some of the factors that may increase or decrease the length of a prison sentence for a misdemeanor include:
- Whether you have a prior record
- Whether the offense included a weapon or an act of violence
- Any aggravating or mitigating factors
- The specific offense charged
Are there alternatives to trials for misdemeanor offenses?
Our first aim in every misdemeanor case is to have the charges against you dismissed – either by the prosecutor or by the trial judge. Trials are often risky which is why we often seek alternatives to trial. Two common alternatives to misdemeanor trials are:
A plea agreement to a summary offense. Summary offenses can result in prison time – but no more than 90 days. Instead of prison time, judges often, in summary cases, impose a sentence of probation. The fines for summary offenses are, with some exceptions, no more than $300.
ARD. ARD is short for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. ARD is a program that is available for first-time offenders of non-violent crimes (with some exceptions). Generally, if you are accepted into an ARD program and you complete the conditions the judge imposes, the charges will be dropped. Common conditions include:
- Not getting into further trouble with the law during the term of the ARD
- Attendance at a substance abuse or other type of program
- Restitution – repayment for any items taken or damaged
- Community service
If you complete the program and your lawyer follows through with clearing your record (by expunging your record), you should be able to say you haven’t been convicted of any crimes and criminal background checks should not disclose any conviction for the offense.
ARD is often used for marijuana possession, first-time DUI, misdemeanor thefts, and other non-violent offenses. Some counties may even offer an ARD for a simple assault if the victim didn’t require medical attention.
Probation. In some cases, a judge may sentence you to probation instead of prison time for misdemeanor crimes depending on several factors including:
- Whether the crime involved a weapon or violence
- Your background suggests you’ll respond to probation – you won’t be likely to commit another offense
- You have dependents you need to support
What are the defense strategies in misdemeanor cases in Pennsylvania?
The strategies depend on the type of the offense, the current statutes and case law, what happened, and what the prosecution can actually prove. For example:
- In drug cases, we often seek to challenge the legal basis for seizing the evidence. Often, police improperly seize evidence and search you – in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.
- In DUI cases, our misdemeanor lawyers usually contest the reason the police stopped you, the way any field sobriety or breath tests were conducted, and the validity of the breathalyzerreading.
- In theft cases, we may argue that the value of the item is less than the amount that is claimed – which can reduce the offense to a less serious offense. We also may argue that you had a legal right to the items that were taken.
Speak with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer today
At the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, we understand how scary a misdemeanor charge is. Our Central PA criminal defense lawyers guide you through each phase of your case. We have a strong track record of success obtaining dismissals and plea reductions for misdemeanor charges. To talk with one of our Central PA defense lawyers, call us at: (717) 537-0928 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. We’ll fight aggressively to protect your reputation and your liberty.
“He made a long drawn out process seem easy!”- Lechele
“Confident, thorough, and trustworthy.”- Tara
“Honest, straightforward and fights for YOU!”- Melissa W.