Being convicted of a violent crime in Pennsylvania has life-changing consequences including the potential for a long jail sentence. In addition, you can face heavy fines long probation periods and restitution payments to the victim. Your employment options are limited. You lose some basic constitutional rights such as owning a weapon. This article covers those crimes that are considered “violent” in Pennsylvania and the penalties for each.

Violent Crime Offenses in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania recognizes numerous violent crimes as felonies, some of which are listed below.

First-Degree Felony

  • Arson endangering people
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape

Second Degree Felony

  • Burglary when no one is present in the building
  • Indecent assault
  • Statutory sexual assault

Third Degree Felony

  • Carrying a gun without a permit
  • Institutional sexual assault of a minor
  • Terroristic threats

Non-Categorized Felony

  • First, second and third-degree murder
  • First, second and third-degree murder of an unborn child

Sentencing Range for Felony Levels

Anyone faces a sentence that is based on the degree of the felony after being convicted. There is a maximum penalty associated with every felony offense. However, non-categorized crimes have separate potential sentences.

  • Murder First-Degree – Mandatory death or life imprisonment.
  • Murder Second-Degree – Mandatory life imprisonment.
  • First-degree Felony – not more than a 20-year prison sentence with up to $25,000 in fines.
  • Second-degree Felony – also carries up to $25,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison.
  • Third-degree Felony – up to 7 years in prison with up to $15,000 in fines.

Courts do not consistently impose the maximum sentence. Rather, individual sentences can differ significantly. Also, felonies that are not categorized under one of the three felony degrees have separate sentencing.

Previous Offenses Affect Penalties

Sentencing is also affected when a person has committed and been convicted of previous offenses. An additional penalty may apply when someone has a previous violent crime conviction and has a new violent crime.

Generally, the court must impose a prison sentence of at least 10 years. If the person has two or more previous violent crime convictions, the court must give the person a prison sentence of 25 years or more.

Pennsylvania’s Statutes of Limitation for Violent Crimes

Pennsylvania has established time periods in which a legal proceeding must commence for violent crimes. If the state fails to bring a case within the statute of limitation, it loses the right to prosecute a person or persons for the crime forever. The statutes of limitation time clock begins the minute someone commits a crime. Typically, statutes of limitation for violent crimes are longer than other crimes. There are some crimes where statutes of limitation do not apply. Still, the statute of limitation may be tolled, or suspended, in some instance. When this occurs, the state has additional time to begin legal action.

In Pennsylvania, the general statute of limitations is two years, but the general limitations period for “major offenses” is five years. See below for statutes of limitations for some specific offenses. Here are some examples regarding violent crimes:

  • Rape – 12 years
  • Kidnapping – 5 years
  • Major Sexual Offenses – 12 years
  • Conspiracy to commit murder or solicitation to commit murder if the intended target is murdered – No time limit
  • Voluntary manslaughter – No time limit
  • Murder – No time limit
  • Felonies connected with first or second-degree murder – No time limit
  • Vehicular homicide – No time limit
  • Aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer – Not time limit

Tolling Provisions

With the exception of some summary offenses, the limitation period is suspended when:

  • An underage child is the victim of a crime when the child’s parents caused certain injuries, a person responsible for the child’s welfare, or a few other categories of individuals
  • Prosecution is already underway in Pennsylvania for the same crime
  • There is no way to reasonably ascertain where the accused lives or works in the state because of continuous absences

Sometimes, criminal charges are all it takes to place a stigma on your life. If convicted, that stigma grows into your inability to enroll in school, get your dream job or even live where you would like to live after serving time. Sound legal defense could make the difference in whether charges stick or you walk away with your freedom. Call Brian Fishman today!