If you have ever wondered about how the state of Pennsylvania identifies a prison or jail sentence for people, you are not alone. You may want or need to know this if you have personally been charged with a crime or if a member of your family or a friend faces criminal charges. 

As explained by the Pennsylvania Code, there are as many as nine different types of criminal charge categories. The least serious is called a summary offense and the most serious is murder in the first degree followed closely by murder in the second degree. In between, there are three groupings of misdemeanors. The least serious misdemeanor is a third degree offense followed by second degree offenses and finally first degree crimes.

The next jump goes to felonies and the least serious of these is a third degree felony followed by second and then first degree felonies. It is interesting to know that murder in the third degree is a first degree felony. All of these charges have stated maximum prison or jail sentences that get longer as the severity of the charge increases. Having a maximum sentence does not mean that a person will automatically be sentenced to that length of time but it means that they cannot be sentenced to more than that amount of time.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to help give Pennsylvania residents an overview of the different types of criminal violations and classifications and how these may impact an ultimate sentence for people convicted of them.