Philadelphia Criminal Law News

Pennsylvania Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Summary Offenses

There are several classes of crimes in Pennsylvania including murders, felonies, misdemeanors, and summary offenses.

The penalties for murder are obviously the most serious and can include the death penalty. While a summary offense is the least severe, the penalties can also be serious. Within each classification of offense, there may also be sub-categories of offenses that carry varying penalties.

The different classes of offenses can be difficult to keep track of and may be confusing. Here is a general overview of the different types of offenses and their associated penalties:


  • Murder in the First Degree. If convicted, a defendant could face a possible death sentence.
  • Murder in the Second Degree. This can come with a potential life sentence.
  • Murder in the Third Degree. The maximum a defendant can face is up to 40 years in prison.


  • Felony in the First Degree. Someone convicted of the crime can face up to 20 years in prison.
  • Felony in the Second Degree. A defendant can face up to 10 years in prison.
  • Felony in the Third Degree. Up to seven years in prison are possible.


  • Misdemeanor in the First Degree. Someone convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor can face up to five years in prison.
  • Misdemeanor in the Second Degree. A two-year prison term is possible.
  • Misdemeanor in the Third Degree. One year behind bars is the maximum sentence.

Summary Offenses

Someone convicted of a summary offense can spend up to 90 days in jail. Remember, jail is different from prison in many respects.

Contact a Lawyer

If you have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, you will want to work with a criminal defense attorney to learn more about possible penalties and your available defenses. The penalties for even a summary offense can be very severe and can affect you for life. Just because you have been charged with a crime, this does not mean that you will be convicted.

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