In Pittsburgh, as in all of Pennsylvania, a conviction for a first-degree misdemeanor (M1) could get you a prison sentence of up to 5 years. If you have been charged with such a crime, you should immediately hire a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney.
Throughout the United States, crimes are separated into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are more serious crimes, with misdemeanors being less serious. As with felonies, misdemeanors are further split into three degrees (first, second, and third,) with some crimes being considered worse than others. For example, first-degree misdemeanors result in more serious punishments than third-degree ones. Some misdemeanors are not sub-classified, which means they do not fall under these described categories and have their own sentencing guidelines. A Pittsburgh misdemeanor defense lawyer can explain the type of penalties that you may be facing.
What is a “First-Degree Misdemeanor”?
A first-degree misdemeanor is a crime that is more severe than a summary offense, but not as bad as a felony. Examples of first-degree felonies include the following:
- Indecent assault
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Possession of a firearm prohibited
- Possession of a weapon on school property
- Failing to give a prompt fire alarm or report a fire
- Obscene material and performances
- Indecent exposure to a person under the age of 16
- Counterfeiting a trademark, if it is a first offense
- Prostitution for the fourth or subsequent time
- Luring a child into a motor vehicle or building
- Terroristic threats
Possible penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include:
- A prison sentence of up to 5 years
- Fines of up to $10,000.
Grading a Sentence
Many factors go into determining the punishment for a first-degree misdemeanor.
The Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines require that every crime be allotted an Offense Gravity Score, better known as OGS. This OGS is designated as a number. The more severe the crime, the bigger the OGS number will be.
Your sentencing judge will look at your prior criminal record and the OGS score for your crime when sentencing you. Your criminal record will be given a score based on the number and severity of your prior convictions. This score is called a Prior Records Score, or PRS.
If your Offense Gravity Score is low and you have few previous convictions, your guideline sentence will be shorter.
Trial judges in Pittsburgh and elsewhere in Pennsylvania have discretionary power when handing down sentences. They are allowed to sentence you to things like probation or community service in lieu of prison if they feel your case warrants it.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, some offenses require mandatory minimum punishments. In these cases, the judge has to sentence you to prison for a specific amount of time. When this happens, he or she is not change your sentence to a lighter one, regardless of the existence of mitigating or aggravating factors.
Interested in Learning More About Pennsylvania Offense Classes and Gravity Scores?
Under the Pennsylvania Criminal Code, offense classes and gravity scores are defined under Title 204, Chapter 303.