Official Oppression in PA (Maximum Penalties and Defenses)

Probably since you were a little kid, you wanted to be involved in the criminal justice system like being a police officer, a trooper, a sheriff’s deputy, a corrections officer or working for probation and parole. Maybe your family has a strong and long tradition of working in law enforcement. All you wanted to do was to literally protect good guys from the bad guys. Now you are facing Official Oppression charges. You face being arrested, losing your career, being in the press and going to jail because of it. We like police officers and law enforcement. It would be our honor to protect you as a thank you for protecting our families and neighbors. When you need the best Pennsylvania Criminal Lawyer, the McShane Firm is it.

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The Law

Let’s start you off right by actually reading the full text of the law the government says you violated here: 18 PS 5301 (Official Oppression)

Remember it is the government’s duty to actually prove you guilty. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  1. the accused
  2. acting or purporting to act in an official capacity or taking advantage of such actual or purported capacity,
  3. knowing that his conduct was illegal, he or she:
    • subjected another to arrest, detention, search, seizure, mistreatment, dispossession, assessment, lien or other infringement of personal or property rights; or
    • denied or impeded another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity.

It’s a pretty wide law that covers a lot of potential situations.

Defenses that work


One of the favorite tactics of the District Attorney’s Office is to Monday Morning quarterback these events. They do so from the safety of their office. The decisions you have to make take nanoseconds and is often based upon incomplete information. No law enforcement officer I know of wakes up in the morning and says to themselves “Today! Today is the day when I become a criminal!” and then is bent on violating people’s rights.

Another favorite tactic is to ignore all of the evidence. If there is a video, the DA will try to trim it down or play it in super slow motion which totally and completely unfairly shows what happened. We won’t allow that.

Finally, the DA’s ignores how dangerous it is to be a peace officer these days. The events of 2020 with rioting and looting and the open execution of innocent police officers by cowardly sneak attacks cannot be ignored. Actions and reactions don’t happen in a vacuum.

Statute of Limitations for Official Oppression in PA

A statute of limitations for Official Oppression in Pennsylvania is two years. This means that the government has to start a criminal prosecution within two years of when the event allegedly occurred.


Infrequently in these types of charges is there dispositive and irrefutable evidence. In these cases, it may be very difficult for the government to prove that any event happened or that you folks were ever in the same area together. This is why Lawyer Up, if the IA or the police come asking about what happened it so important. There is no “off the record”.

Jury Nullification

Over our nearly 20 years of experience, we have represented peace officers and probation officers charged with Official Oppression. Juries, in general, like law enforcement agents. They really hate to convict them. They will bend over backwards to give theme the benefit of the doubt. While we cannot explicitly argue in court for the jury to return a not guilty verdict despite the evidence, we can set up a subconscious argument for them to do exactly that. We put on character evidence of your character traits that are relevant.

Maximum Penalties

Official Oppression is a misdemeanor of the second degree. As such, it carries with it a maximum period of incarceration of not more than two years and a max fine not to exceed $2500.

Although you may be experienced in criminal law cases and are thinking to yourself that as a first time offender and it being a misdemeanor of the second degree that jail is not the usual outcome, that is true for any other offense. But our experience is that with these charges, judges love to put officers in jail for the headline or “to prove a point.” Needless to say, jail is very dangerous for any former LEO, PO or CO.

Following you for life

In addition to the Maximum Penalties and Fines, Misdemeanor Conviction Consequences in Pennsylvania can have consequences that follow you for life.

Felony Conviction Consequences in Pennsylvania