Is a summary offense the same as a misdemeanor?

In Pennsylvania, a summary offense is:

  1. a criminal offense,
  2. goes on your record,
  3. can be fought, and
  4. can be expunged under certain circumstances

The police generally write a citation for a summary in PA. If you don’t respond by pleading guilty or showing up for court, the judge will issue an arrest warrant for you. It doesn’t just go away.

A summary offense in PA is not a misdemeanor but it is still a criminal conviction

Summary offenses include charges such as:

A summary under the Crimes Code is different than a traffic ticket. A conviction for a summary offense under the crimes code can include jail time. It carries a punishment of a maximum jail sentence of no more than ninety (90) days. However, in most cases a summary offense will carry no jail time but will require an individual to pay a fine. That is not to say that an individual should take a summary offense lightly. A summary offense can have lasting consequences on one’s criminal record or consequences in the job world, not just on their liberty.

Is a summary offense the same as a misdemeanor?

No. A summary is not the same as a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. A summary is considered a lesser or lower crime than a misdemeanor. In fact, a misdemeanor has three different degrees in Pennsylvania.

A misdemeanor of the first degree may carry a sentence of imprisonment not more than five years in prison. Next, a misdemeanor of the second degree may carry a term of imprisonment the maximum of which is not more than two years in prison. Lastly, a misdemeanor of the third degree may carry a term of imprisonment the maximum of which is not more than one year in jail. For more information on the classification of offenses see the statute: 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 106.

Additional recommended reading:

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.