Misdemeanor charges often have the reputation of being petty, non-serious crimes and this may actually be true when compared to more serious charges, but misdemeanor charges attorneys know that misdemeanor charges are in fact, serious and misdemeanor convictions do have long term consequences. When it comes to levels of seriousness, misdemeanors are more serious than summary offenses such as disorderly conduct or loitering, but are not as serious as felony charges. Regardless of seriousness, a misdemeanor charge is a criminal charge that may lead to a criminal conviction.
Misdemeanor convictions may result in probation, fines, court ordered programs, and jail. Beyond that, there are other consequences such as harm to reputation, reduced college prospects, job limitations, and family embarrassment. Misdemeanor convictions should not be taken lightly and should be handled by a criminal defense lawyer for a better chance at a favorable outcome and to see that the defendant’s rights are protected.
1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree misdemeanors
There are three degrees of misdemeanors in Pennsylvania with 1st degree being the most serious and 3rd degree the least serious. See below for a brief description of each degree.
1st Degree misdemeanor
1st Degree misdemeanor charges are the most serious misdemeanors and generally carry heavier prison sentences of up to 5 years and greater fines up to $10,000 than other degrees of misdemeanors. 1st degree misdemeanors may include crimes such as stalking, terroristic threats, child endangerment, theft between $200 and $2,000, repeat offenders of certain crimes, and identity theft of less than $2,000.
2nd Degree misdemeanor
2nd Degree misdemeanor charges are less serious than 1st degree misdemeanors, but defendants still face up to 2 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. 2nd degree misdemeanor crimes may include bigamy, impersonating a public servant, resisting arrest, putting another person in danger, theft of property between $50 and $200, and providing false statements.
3rd Degree misdemeanor
3rd Degree misdemeanor charges are the least serious, but defendants may be sentenced up to one year in prison and be required to pay up to $2,500 in fines. Crimes may include persistent disorderly conduct, railroad vandalism, and theft of property under $50.
Misdemeanor conviction consequences
A misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, but it still goes on your criminal record and as mentioned above, you may still have fines, the court ordered programs, probation, and jail time. Having a criminal record may affect your current job and future job prospects. Your criminal record may limit housing rental options if owners do not rent to you because you have a criminal conviction. Misdemeanors may result in driver’s license suspensions and may negatively impact custody arrangements and immigration status or eligibility.