In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, First Degree Felonies, also called F1, are the most serious crimes that you can commit. If you have been arrested and charged with a first-degree felony, you will need the immediate assistance of an experienced and dedicated Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney.
Across the United States, crimes are separated into two major categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Of these two, felonies are considered to be the most serious crimes. Felonies are split even further, into three degrees. Among these three degrees, first degree felonies are the most serious ones, and third-degree felonies are the least serious.
If you are found guilty of committing a first-degree felony, you could be sent to prison for up to twenty years. Not only will you lose your freedom while you are incarcerated, you will also face other problems, like worrying about who is going to take care of your kids and support your family. This is why it is important to consult a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney if you are facing this type of charge.
Even after your release, your crime will haunt you. Many employers refuse to hire convicted felons, which means you may not be able to find a decent job. You will not be allowed to own a gun or serve our country in the military.
What Do You Mean, “First-Degree Felony”?
Of all felonies, first- degree ones have the harshest consequences:
- Prison sentence of up to twenty years
- Fines of up to $25,000.
Offenses that fall under the category of first-degree felony:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Aggravated assault on a prison employee, cop, or officer of the court
Grading a Sentence
Many factors go into determining the punishment for a first-degree felony.
Every crime in Pennsylvania has to be assigned an Offense Gravity Score, also known as an OGS, as per the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines. The OGS is styled as a number. The more severe the crime, the bigger the OGS number will be.
Your prior criminal record will be taken into account, as well, and given a score, called a PRS, or Prior Record Score. The more previous convictions you have on your record, the higher this score will be. Conversely, the fewer previous convictions you have, the lower this score will be.
Your sentencing judge will look at your prior criminal record and the OGS score for your crime when sentencing you. If your OGS score is low and you have few previous convictions, your guideline sentence will be shorter. Trial judges in Pennsylvania have discretionary power and are allowed to pass sentences that differ from the guidelines if mitigating or aggravating factors are involved.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Some offenses come with mandatory minimum punishments. This means the judge will have to sentence you to prison for a specified number of years. In these cases, the judge is not allowed to give you a lighter sentence, despite mitigating or aggravating factors, which means that even if it’s your first criminal offense and you have no others on your record, the judge will still have to give you that minimum sentence.