Felonies differ from misdemeanors in their severity of punishment and their severity of offenses. Misdemeanor offenses carry sentences of one year or less in a county or local jail facility, whereas felonies are punishable by as much as a death sentence or life in prison in a state prison facility. The state of Pennsylvania does not classify felonies into different sections, like most other states. Instead each offense is broken into varying degrees of the crimes. For instance the second-degree of a particular offense is less severe than a first-degree offense and is more serious than a third-degree offense. The Pennsylvania system is rather simple: the higher the offense’s degree, the more severe the offense and the more serious the punishment.
Different Felonies in Pennsylvania
Murder in the state of Pennsylvania is broken into three degrees. Murder in the first degree is punishable by a sentencing of death or a sentencing of life in prison. Murder in the second degree can have varying ranges of punishments that start as high as life in prison and on down from ninety-nine years of incarceration. Murder in the third degree has similar punishments to murder in the second degree and include punishments as high as life in prison. The degree in which a murder offense is sentenced depends on the seriousness of the crime.
Offenses of theft also have three varying degrees of punishments that depend on the accumulated amount of money of which the stolen items would result. Theft in the first degree terms cases where over ten thousand dollars has been stolen and the individual is a repeated offender. First-degree theft is punishable by no more than ten years in a state prison. Theft in the second degree terms offenses that add up to over five thousand dollars is punishable by up to ten years in a state prison facility. Theft in the third degree is for stolen items adding up to over two thousand dollars. Third-degree theft is punishable by as low as one year in prison or as much as seven years in prison.
Pennsylvania Felony Expungement
The state of Pennsylvania only allows expungement in certain situations and gives specific criteria for those who are able to petition for expungement. This criterion includes being seventy-years-old and free from prosecution or arrest for ten years since the served sentence and the case where three years has passed since the death of the defendant. Certain statutes are also in place for prohibiting the expungement of specific arrest records. These different types of prohibited records include those for rape offenses, prostitution-related offenses, any individual on accelerated rehabilitative disposition for offenses towards victims under the age of eighteen, obscene materials and performance, involuntary statutory sexual intercourse, and aggravated indecent assault.
Pennsylvania has set into place statutes of limitations for felonies to be prosecuted in a court of law for criminal acts. There is no limitation for voluntary manslaughter, murder, conspiracy to murder, felony connection to first- or second-degree murder, murder, vehicular homicide, and solicitation to commit murder. Eight years exist for fraud, five years for conspiracy for a major offense, and two years for all others.