What Is a Misdemeanor in Pennsylvania?

by | Feb 22, 2022


A misdemeanor is a criminal offense classification in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Maximum penalties for misdemeanor convictions include five years in prison and $10,000 in fines, although aggravated and enhanced charges could increase them. PA laws recognize three misdemeanor grades from most to least severe, including first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree offenses.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly makes all state-level misdemeanor statutes available online.

In This Article

Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer, Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq., explains what a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania is, examples of misdemeanor crimes, whether they could be increased or reduced, and what to do if you or your loved one ever face charges.

What Crimes Are Misdemeanors?

There are hundreds of crimes that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania classifies as misdemeanors. They can range in severity from involuntary manslaughter to possessing a fake ID. The severity of the offense corresponds with a penalty under the first-, second-, and third-degree grades.

We’ve described each grade and the different types of crimes that are considered misdemeanors below:

First-Degree Misdemeanor

A first-degree misdemeanor, also abbreviated as M1, is a crime that could result in a maximum prison sentence of not more than five years and fines that do not exceed $10,000. They’re also punished more severely than any other grade within this classification.

Below, we’ve alphabetically listed 20 examples of M1 offenses in Pennsylvania:

  1. Access device fraud
  2. Criminal trespass
  3. Endangering a child’s welfare
  4. Forgery
  5. Identity theft less than $2,000
  6. Indecent exposure with persons under age 16 present
  7. Involuntary manslaughter
  8. Patronizing prostitutes (4th offense)
  9. Possession of a weapon on school property
  10. Prostitution (fourth or subsequent offense)
  11. Retail theft between $250 and $999.99
  12. Sexual extortion
  13. Simple assault against a child under 12 by a person 18 years or older
  14. Stalking
  15. Tampering with records
  16. Terroristic threats
  17. Theft valued over $200
  18. Trademark counterfeiting
  19. Unlawful dissemination of a minor’s intimate image
  20. Unlicensed firearm carry

Related Article: PA Involuntary Manslaughter Charges: What You Need to Know

Second-Degree Misdemeanor

A second-degree misdemeanor, also abbreviated as M2, is a crime that could result in a maximum prison sentence of not more than two years and fines that do not exceed $5,000. They’re also punished more severely than other grades within this classification but not as severely as first-degree misdemeanors.

Below, we’ve alphabetically listed 20 examples of M2 offenses in Pennsylvania:

  1. Abuse of a corpse
  2. Bad checks between $500 and $999.99
  3. Bigamy
  4. Commercial bribery
  5. Criminal mischief
  6. Evidence fabrication or tampering
  7. False implication in a police report
  8. False police reports
  9. Indecent exposure
  10. Institutional vandalism
  11. Insults at the national flag
  12. Patronizing a prostitute (third offense)
  13. Prostitution (third offense)
  14. Recklessly endangering another
  15. Retail theft less than $150
  16. Simple assault
  17. Strangulation
  18. Theft with values between $50 and $199.99
  19. Unlawful dissemination of an adult’s intimate image
  20. Witness retaliation

Related Article: Can the Philadelphia Police Lie to You?

Third-Degree Misdemeanor Offenses

A third-degree misdemeanor, also abbreviated as M3, is a crime that could result in a maximum prison sentence of not more than one year and fines that do not exceed $2,500. They’re also punished the least severely of all misdemeanor grades.

Below, we’ve alphabetically listed 20 examples of M2 offenses in Pennsylvania:

  1. Animal neglect
  2. Bad checks between $200 and $499.99
  3. Criminal mischief over $500
  4. Criminal trespass for refusal to leave on orders
  5. Desecration of a flag
  6. Device theft
  7. Disorderly conduct
  8. False identification
  9. Fictitious police reports
  10. Invasion of privacy
  11. Loitering and prowling at nighttime
  12. Nonpayment of wages less than $2,000
  13. Obstructing emergency services
  14. Online stalking
  15. Patronizing a prostitute (first or second offense)
  16. Prostitution (first or second offense
  17. Simple assault where both parties consent
  18. Tampering with fire hydrants
  19. Theft under $50
  20. Using a fake ID to buy alcohol

If you’re facing a misdemeanor charge in Pennsylvania, it is critical to understand what’s at stake. Even a seemingly-minor misdemeanor charge can result in years of prison time. You have the right to defend yourself with a criminal defense lawyer who can explain your legal rights and options throughout the process.

Related Article: What Is a Felony in Pennsylvania?

Can Misdemeanors Become Greater or Lesser Offenses?

Yes, a misdemeanor could become a greater or lesser offense depending upon the facts and evidence. You may face penalties other than those listed in the preceding section. As such, it’s critical to retain the services of a PA criminal defense attorney who can help you discover legal opportunities to get your charges dropped, dismissed, or reduced.

What to Do If You’re Facing a Misdemeanor in Pennsylvania

If you face a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, you have a few options. Regardless, the most practical approach is hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney. We have access to powerful resources that only start with the knowledge of the law.

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Understandably, many people are terrified when charged with a misdemeanor. These charges are more than just a “slap on the wrist” and could result in serious consequences. A no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation is an opportunity to get the answers you deserve from a legal defense firm.

Related Article: Why Hire a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Get a Free Case Evaluation with Shuttleworth Law PC Now

Shuttleworth Law PC is ready to protect in and out of the courtroom. Speak with a Philadelphia misdemeanor defense lawyer that will stand by your side. Call us now at (215) 774-1371 for a Free Case Evaluation or message us through the contact form below. Open to accepting cases in Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

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