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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Montgomery County Sentencing

There are a variety of different punishments based on a variety of crimes, each with their own set of circumstances in Montgomery County. If it is a negotiated sentencing, the defense attorney and the District Attorney agree and give a recommendation to the judge. The judge will usually approve that sentence.

If it is not negotiated, such as a trial where the judge finds someone guilty of one or all of the charges, then they will sentence that person based upon what they feel is right, in addition to the sentencing arguments. The sentencing argument from the defense attorney and from the prosecuting attorney is a whole separate part of the hearing.

In Montgomery County, the sentencing decisions are always up to a judge. If the prosecutor and defense attorney reach an agreement, then that is a contract that a judge can approve or reject. If there is no agreement between the parties, then it will be up to the judge after hearing arguments from both sides to give a sentence.

It is best to reach out to a knowledgeable defense attorney to learn about the nuances of Montgomery County sentencing.

The Difference Between Sentencing For Misdemeanor and Felony Offenses

Sentencing for a misdemeanor usually has lower maximum penalties than a felony case. For example, a misdemeanor of the third degree has a maximum of only one year in jail or probation and a maximum fine of $1,000. A misdemeanor of the second degree will have a maximum of two years. A first-degree conviction will have a higher maximum of five years in jail or probation, or some combination thereof. The judge could also assign things such as restitution, stay-away orders, or, if they deem fit, they can impose alternative sentencing such as community service or drug and alcohol treatment. Those are all things the court has at their disposal when fashioning what they think is fair for a proper sentence.

Sentencing for misdemeanor crimes include:

  • A misdemeanor of the third degree, a maximum of 1 year and $2,500 fine
  • A misdemeanor of the second degree, a maximum of 2 years and $5,000 fine
  • A misdemeanor of the first degree, a maximum of 5 years and $10,000 fine
  • A summary offense, a maximum of 90 days and $300 fine

A misdemeanor sentence would usually be lower than a felony sentence, but not always. It depends on the crime and how aggressively the prosecution might push for an increased sentence. It might also depend on other factors, such as the person’s prior record and the specifics of the crime.

Felony Offenses

A sentence for a felony crime will usually be a higher sentence than a misdemeanor. Montgomery County sentencing for felony crimes are structured as follows:

  • A felony of the third degree may have a maximum of 7 years and $15,000 fine
  • A felony of the second degree, a maximum of 10 years and up to $25,000 fine
  • A felony of the first degree, a maximum of 20 years and up to $25,000 fine

Those penalties can be increased by repeat offenders and certain aggravating factors such as second and third strikes. Those would be mandatory punishments that a judge would have to give by law, based upon multiple first-degree felonies.

Felony sentencing can be very high. There could be a lot of jail time in a Pennsylvania state prison. A judge can also sentence someone to county prison in the Montgomery County jail and end with probation. It depends on whether the parties are able to reach an agreement or whether the defense attorney can successfully show the judge the mitigating factors in the case.

Examples of Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

Some aggravating factors that can be considered in Montgomery County sentencing include:

  • Whether the person used a deadly weapon during a crime
  • Running from the police
  • The person’s refusal to take any responsibility for wrongdoing, especially after being found guilty

Mitigating factors that could impact a case include:

  • No prior record (or a low prior record)
  • Mitigating factor witnesses
  • People to speak as to the person’s good character (family support)
  • The person taking responsibility (admitting they were wrong or at fault)
  • Cooperating with the government in various ways.
  • A solid employment record

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Could Help

At sentencing, a defense attorney could provide lengthy arguments, witnesses, or additional documents. There are numerous ways they can advocate for a lower sentence. Witnesses from the community, their family, or even letters from employers or friends as to their good character would help to seek leniency from the judge or the deciding authority.

Other evidence which could be presented would be social, biographical information about the person, prior evidence of completed drug treatment or anger management classes. Anything that can show a fuller picture of the person in an effort to explain how they may have ended up in this situation and how they encountered the police officers. All of this can be presented to the judge when asking for a lower sentence.

Reach out to a diligent defense attorney to learn about the Montgomery County sentencing process. Schedule a consultation today.