Misdemeanors and felonies are two types of crimes with varying degrees of severity. In Philadelphia, PA, both types of crimes are handled differently. Misdemeanors are considered less serious, whereas felonies are more severe and carry more severe penalties. If you or someone you know is facing one of these charges, understanding the differences between the two can help you understand the legal process and potential outcomes. In this blog post, we will discuss how misdemeanor and felony cases are handled differently in Philadelphia, PA.
- Definition and Classifications:
Misdemeanors are classified as minor offenses that carry less severe penalties than felonies. They are further categorized into three different classes, depending on the severity of the offense. These include first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree misdemeanors. On the other hand, felonies are classified as more serious crimes such as murder, rape, and assault. They are classified as first, second or third-degree based on the severity of the offense.
- Bail and Pretrial Detention:
After being arrested, a person charged with a misdemeanor can post bail or own recognizance release, which means that they would be released from custody without having to pay any bail fee. However, a person charged with a felony must go through a bail hearing to determine the amount of bail they need to pay to remain free during the trial. If the judge determines that the defendant is a flight risk or poses a threat to the community, they may be detained during the trial.
- Court Procedures:
When you are charged with a misdemeanor in Philadelphia, you will be tried in a minor court, such as the Municipal Court. Felony charges are usually tried in a more formal court, such as the Common Pleas Court. The trial process for a misdemeanor case is relatively quick, and often the trial may be over in only one day. Meanwhile, felony cases may take several months to several years to be resolved.
Typically the penalties for misdemeanors are less severe than felonies. For instance, a first-degree misdemeanor can carry a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of up to five years. Meanwhile, a third-degree felony conviction can carry a fine of up to $15,000 or imprisonment of up to seven years. Penalties can be harsher for offenses like first-degree felonies, which can carry life imprisonment and even the death penalty in some states.
- Criminal Records:
Misdemeanors can lead to a criminal record that can potentially affect future employment opportunities. However, felonies carry a much more significant impact on a person’s criminal record. Felony convictions can prevent a person from acquiring certain jobs and may make it more challenging to secure housing, credit, and other essential needs.
In conclusion, misdemeanors and felonies are two types of crimes that are handled differently in Philadelphia, PA. Felonies are more severe offenses that carry harsher penalties, while misdemeanors are minor crimes that carry less severe sentences. It is critical to understand the differences between the two as it can help guide you through the legal process and potential outcomes of your case. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, consider seeking out professional counsel from a criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable with the legal system in Philadelphia.