Reputation. Respect. Results.
Photo of attorney Geoffrey S. McInroy

Breaking Down The Differences Between Felony And Misdemeanor Charges

Last updated on September 6, 2023

Using the law to protect your rights can be a challenge if you do not have a strong legal background. At The Law Office of Geoffrey McInroy, LLC, we regularly defend clients struggling to make sense of Pennsylvania’s criminal process and legal terms.

Our firm’s founder Geoffrey McInroy offers free consultations to potential clients facing criminal charges to help them understand what is at stake and what their options are before they take action. Two questions that attorney McInroy hears during these sessions are: What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony? How could this charge affect me if I am convicted?

Please read on to learn more about how violations are classified. If you need more information when you finish, you should call our Camp Hill office at 717-540-6833 to schedule your free consultation.

How Crimes Are Classified In Pennsylvania

The most serious crimes are considered felony offenses in the state. Misdemeanor offenses are often “lesser offenses,” but this phrase can be deceiving because the impact of a misdemeanor conviction can have lasting consequences. How a crime is classified will determine the maximum and minimum penalties a defendant, the person accused of committing a crime, will face.

After the criminal offense has been classified, prosecutors look at a variety of factors before they determine which penalties they will seek. These factors include the criminal history of the accused person, the victims of the alleged crime and the severity of the alleged act.

Understanding Misdemeanor Offenses

Misdemeanor crimes are classified according to the crime’s impact. First-degree misdemeanor charges are more serious than third-degree charges. Although these types of crimes aren’t considered as severe as a felony offense, a defendant could be required to serve time in prison and pay a hefty fine.

Stalking, drunk driving violations, simple assault and certain types of property theft are classified as the most serious misdemeanor crimes in Pennsylvania. Possessing marijuana, vandalizing railroads and loitering are classified as third-degree misdemeanors — the lowest level of this classification.

Felony Charges

Felony crimes are considered severe crimes. The penalties and sentencing recommendations reflect the seriousness of this violation. As with misdemeanor crimes, felony crimes are divided into first-, second- and third-degree levels. A first-degree felony crime is the most serious type of felony.

Types of first-degree felony crimes include murder and kidnapping. Defendants could be sentenced to at least 10 years of prison and a stiff fine if they are convicted. Third-degree felony charges carry at least 3.5 years of prison time and a maximum $15,000 fine.

The Impact Of A Misdemeanor Or Felony Conviction

Having a misdemeanor or felony conviction on your record can have many negative repercussions, long after you serve your time. Your criminal history can be accessed by any potential landlord or employer during routine background checks, leading to the rejection of a job or lease application. Felons often struggle with additional restrictions, which may include receiving government benefits or owning a gun.

It is crucial to work with an experienced attorney after a brush with the law. The decisions that you make while you are navigating the criminal process can have lasting consequences. When you hire our team at The Law Office of Geoffrey McInroy, LLC, we will advise you honestly and protect your rights throughout your legal matter.

Contact Us To Get Started

Get answers to your urgent questions during your free consultation. You can easily arrange your appointment with a knowledgeable lawyer by calling 717-540-6833 or completing our online form.

Our team at The Law Office of Geoffrey McInroy, LLC, offers aggressive representation to clients in Camp Hill, Harrisburg, Dauphin County and Cumberland County.