Phones Answered 24 Hours a Day

Can Misdemeanor Charges Become Felony Charges in Pennsylvania?

While all criminal charges are serious, standing in a courtroom facing misdemeanor charges is a very different experience than looking down the barrel of a felony sentence. Not only do felonies carry heavier penalties they can also mean losing certain privileges, such as the right to own a registered firearm, and professional licenses. Depending on the surrounding circumstances of a case and other factors, a crime like assault could be bumped from a misdemeanor to a felony. Understanding how serious criminal charges can arise from circumstances is the first step in avoiding the potential imposition of harsh criminal penalties.

How a Misdemeanor Can Become a Felony in Pennsylvania

First, let’s evaluate our example crime: assault. Simple assault in the state of Pennsylvania is a misdemeanor that can carry a penalty of one to five years of prison. However, if new evidence were to arise which shows that the attack involved a deadly weapon, or that the attack was perpetrated against a child who is under the age of 12, the charges are likely to escalate to aggravated assault, a more serious offense.

According to 18 Pa. Code § 27-2702, this crime is classified as a second degree felony, with a potential sentence of up to ten years in prison if the defendant is found guilty. If additional evidence reveals that a previously unidentified victim is a public servant -like a police officer or member of the fire department-, the crime escalates to the highest level: a first degree felony with a potential sentence of up to 20 years in state prison.

Scales of Justice 2 - Can Misdemeanor Charges Become Felony Charges in Pennsylvania?

Factors That Can Transform a Misdemeanor into a Felony

There are several circumstances that can affect whether a defendant stands to face either a misdemeanor or a felony. These special circumstances can also play a great role during a possible negotiation towards a plea bargain.

Some of these factors include:

Previous criminal record: A previous criminal record on the part of the accused might sway the prosecution to go for a heavier charge instead of a less serious offense.

Role in the crime: The leader of a group of people that committed a crime is more likely to face felony charges than those who had a minor or accessory role.

Hate crimes: If the defendant was believed to have committed a crime with a biased motivation towards a specific group, there’s a high likelihood of felony charges being filed.

How DUI Offenses Are Classified

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenses can have a broad range of punishments that range from a fine to years of incarceration and license suspensions. The severity of the punishment is determined by past convictions and the conditions surrounding the crime including the blood alcohol level (BAC) of the driver and whether any accidents or injuries resulted.

Under proper counsel, first-time DUI offenders are very likely to avoid prison time and having a criminal record to deal with. However, if the DUI driver was involved in an accident that caused an injury which was previously unreported, they are now facing a felony charge of up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 and a suspension of their license for one year. There are other situations where charges for a DUI can transform into an even more serious felony matter that an experienced DUI attorney can thoroughly explain.

Holding Bars 2 - Can Misdemeanor Charges Become Felony Charges in Pennsylvania?

How Theft is Classified

The amount allegedly stolen guides the level of theft and larceny charges. Stealing an item worth less than $2,000 is a crime that generally falls under the misdemeanor category. However conditions surrounding the crime can increase the harshness of the charges and penalty. If new evidence suggests that within the items stolen there was a concealed firearm, or a value appraisal sets the value of the item above the $2,000 mark, then the accused faces a second degree felony, according to 18 Pa. Code § 39-3921.

If found guilty on a second-degree felony, the person facing this charge could be looking at up to seven years of imprisonment. However, this could vary with regards to the circumstances of the case, previous convictions and the type of property stolen.

Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorneys Will Fight for You

Any kind of crime, no matter how serious, should be dealt with an experienced attorney by your side. If you require an attorney in Pennsylvania, contact the offices of Young, Marr & Associates today to arrange a consultation. Call (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania or contact our firm online and speak to a criminal defense attorney before it is too late.



icon car - Criminal Defense

Learn what to do if you have been stopped for DUI/DWI.

icon car - Criminal Defense

If this is your first DUI offense, you may be eligible for ARD.

Our Results

Our attorneys have successfully helped thousands of satisfied clients across Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To see how our attorneys can help you, click below. See What We Can Do

  • Speak To An Attorney For Free

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Best PA Criminal Defense Attorneys

Awards & Recognitions

Best Bucks County Criminal Defense Lawyer
Best Bucks County DUI Lawyer
Best Bala Cynwyd Criminal Defense Lawyer
Allentown Criminal Defense Lawyers
Pennsylvania and New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer
Doylestown Criminal Defense Attorney
Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorney
Best DUI Lawyer Allentown
Best Quakertown Criminal Defense Lawyer
Best Easton Criminal Defense Attorney
Best Bensalem Criminal Defense Lawyer
Best Jenkintown Criminal Defense Attorney

13 Convenient Office Locations

map-pinPennsylvania Offices map-pinNew Jersey Offices


328 W Broad St
Quakertown, PA 18951
Tel: (215) 515-6876
Get Directions

Plymouth Meeting

600 West Germantown Pike #400
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
Tel: (215) 515-6876
Get Directions


44 E Court Street #100
Doylestown, PA 18901
Tel: (215) 515-6876
Get Directions


10000 Lincoln Drive E, Suite 201
One Greentree Centre
Marlton, NJ 08053
Tel: (856) 213-2805
Get Directions


7909 Bustleton Ave, First Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19152
Tel: (215) 607-2715
Get Directions


3554 Hulmeville Rd, #102
Bensalem, PA 19020
Tel: (215) 515-6389
Get Directions

Bala Cynwyd

2 Bala Plaza, Suite 300
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
Tel: (610) 557-3209
Get Directions


909 Route 130 South, Suite 202
Cinnaminson, NJ 08077
Tel: (609) 796-4344
Get Directions


135 Old York Road
Jenkintown, PA 19046
Tel: (215) 544-3347
Get Directions


137 N 5th St, Suite A
Allentown, PA 18102
Tel: (215) 240-4082
Get Directions


101 Larry Holmes Dr, #212
Easton, PA 18042
Tel: (215) 515-7077
Get Directions

Hamilton Twp.

3525 Quakerbridge Rd, #903
Hamilton Township, NJ 08619
Tel: (609) 236-8649
Get Directions


371 Hoes Lane, Suite 200
Piscataway Township, NJ 08854
Tel: (908) 367-7256
Get Directions