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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Montgomery County Criminal Penalties

Depending on the nature and the severity of the criminal offense, individuals could face serious consequences, including jail time, restitution, fines, and probation. Immediately following an accusation or charge for a criminal offense, it is best to seek help from a seasoned defense attorney. The lawyer could review the facts of the case and help you build a defense. The defense attorney will determine if there are any mitigating factors and help you avoid Montgomery County criminal penalties.

Penalties for a Misdemeanor Crime

Penalties for misdemeanor crimes in Montgomery County can include a combination of jail time, probation, restitution, and other things, such as attend drug and alcohol treatment, if that is ordered by the judge, depending on the type of crime. Each case is unique, and the sentencing is based on the individual case. However, the guidelines for misdemeanor sentencing are:

  • Third-degree – a maximum of one year in jail or probation and $300 fine
  • Second-degree – a maximum of two years in jail or probation and $5,000 fine
  • First degree – up to five years in jail or probation and $10,000 fine.

As an example, a drug possession case jumps from a one-year maximum to a three-year maximum, based upon how many prior drug offenses a person has. A person charged with a first time driving under the influence (DUI), depending upon what was in their blood and what was found in their car when they were stopped, could be sentenced to a mandatory minimum, meaning the judge has to give them at least 72 hours in jail or maximum of six months in jail. That number could increase based on the number of DUIs.

A misdemeanor sentencing can be complicated and is often charge-specific to a person’s prior history.

Consequences of a Felony Offense

For a felony crime in Montgomery County, people can face a combination of jail time, probation, fees, court fines, or restitution, if any is owed. That is based upon the grading of the felony, and charge specific to the type of crime. For example, if the person was charged with possession with intent to deliver drugs, the penalty would increase based upon the type of drug. A person would always want to consult their attorney or criminal defense lawyer about what exactly they are looking at for their crime.

Judges will often use a Sentencing Guideline as an aid to decide what a person’s penalty or sentence should be. A Sentencing Guideline is a statutory guideline provided by the State of Pennsylvania, which shows that based upon the offense’s gravity scores, the specific crime, the new arrest, and the person’s prior record score, what range of penalties would be appropriate for the person. The judge can decide to follow those Guidelines or deviate from them.

Inability to Pay a Mandatory Fine

If someone is ordered to pay a fine and they are unable to pay it, their defense attorney can file motions to address their situation. They will have to go in front of the judge and explain why their circumstances may have changed, leaving them unable to pay the fine. This could include loss of employment, a family emergency or health emergency, and ask for an extension of this time to pay the fine. They can also ask to alter the payment plan based on their ability to pay or being indigent.

If they have completely lost their job and they now are unable to afford anything, they could ask the judge not to impose a fine or suspend that part of the sentence in the current time period and follow up with another court appearance to address the issue at a later date.

Impact of a Conviction On a Person’s Immigration Status

A person who is charged and convicted of certain offenses will become removable from the country if they are not a citizen of this country. A conviction could also delay the time that they are able to apply for citizenship. If they are an immigrant, on a visa or even refugee status, they should always bring this up at the first meeting with their criminal defense lawyer.

Certain crimes can make someone immediately removable. For other crimes, they can be removable from the country. Those crimes include aggravated felonies, which have a specific definition under Pennsylvania law and federal law, and also crimes involving moral turpitude.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Could Help

When someone is accused of committing a criminal offense, they should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. The defense attorney could conduct their own independent investigation and collect evidence to help build a defense. They will also look for any mitigating factors that could help them reduce the consequences of a conviction.

Seek help from a tenacious defense attorney to learn about the potential Montgomery County criminal penalties they may be facing and their options to fight the charges. Schedule a consultation today.