Summary Offenses in PA
They may be less serious than felonies but summary offenses shouldn’t be taken lightly. They can still have an enormous impact on your life.
There are three main categories of offenses in Pennsylvania: felony, misdemeanor and summary offenses. Murder, meanwhile, has its own special categories. Summary offenses are the least serious and typically cover things such as minor traffic offenses, non-traffic offenses and summary offenses under the wildlife code.
A typical offense might include something such as underage drinking, public urination, minor retail offenses or minor traffic violations.
They are, then, regarded as small fry. They do not rise to the level of misdemeanor and are a long way from felonies, but you should still take them seriously. A summary traffic offense will show up on a background check which could make it more difficult to get a job in the future.
Most employers now run background checks and they’re much less likely to offer you a job if they see offenses on your record; even if it’s relatively minor.
Traffic offenses can also put penalty points on your license. If you accumulate too many of these, you may have to pay more for insurance or even lose your license.
Dealing with a summary offense in Pennsylvania
You may be notified of a summary offense in person, by a police officer or by mail. If the offense is drunken behavior, you may spend a night in the cells and appear before a judge the next day. If you receive a notification, you must respond to it. If you do not, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
While most people consider summary offenses to be minor, they can carry significant fines and, in some cases, could lead to a prison sentence of up to 90 days. If you’ve built up a collection of summary offenses, they could even add up to a total of six months jail time.
Why you should consult an attorney
Being charged with a summary offense can be stressful and many people choose to plead guilty to get through the episode as quickly as possible. However, this could be a mistake. By pleading guilty, your conviction will be made public and can be readily accessible to anyone running a background check, such as a future employer, for example.
An attorney can work with you to decide the best course of action. They may well be able to get the charges dismissed and avoid any public record. If not, they will stand up for your rights and work to reduce the scale of any penalties.
So, if you’ve received notification of a summary offense, don’t panic. Get in touch today and see how we can help.