Recently, a man was arrested on charges of domestic violence at a self-storage facility in Evans City. Inside a storage unit was a man and a woman that was bruised and had red marks on her neck. The couple had been living inside the unit and the woman claimed the man had strangled her and thrown her against a wall before throwing her on the ground. The man is now facing a serious charge of felony strangulation, along with the far more minor summary offense of harassment.
The case is a disturbing one, but it does shed light on summary offenses, which are far too often misunderstood. Being the least severe type of criminal charges a person could face, many people think they are very minor. This is not true. If you have been charged with a summary offense, it is important to know the harsh penalties you will still face if you are convicted.
Summary Traffic Offenses vs. Non-Traffic Summary Offenses
Summary offenses are divided into two categories: traffic summary offenses and non-traffic summary offenses. Traffic summary offenses are covered under the Motor Vehicle Code and include violations of the law such as speeding and parking illegally. In most cases, being charged with a traffic summary offense does not mean you have been charged with a crime.
A non-traffic summary offense, on the other hand, is a criminal offense. Harassment, underage drinking, disorderly conduct, false identification, and public drunkenness are all non-traffic summary offenses. Citations for non-traffic summary offenses look almost identical to citations for traffic summary offenses. When you receive one in the mail, you may think it is a traffic citation and so, plead guilty and pay the fine. While this is an appropriate course of action in some cases, it is important to know the serious consequences that will come of this.
Penalties for Non-Traffic Summary Offenses
Although a summary offense is the least serious of all criminal charges in Pennsylvania, a conviction will still come with serious penalties. These may include up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $300 or more. In addition to these penalties, a summary offense will also remain on your criminal record.
A criminal history may make it more difficult to obtain opportunities with employers, schools, professional licensing boards, and more. Your driver’s license may also be suspended. It is critical that you do not underestimate the seriousness of a summary offense and further, a conviction. If you have received a citation, it is important to speak to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Philadelphia Can Help with Your Summary Offense
Do not take a citation for a summary offense lightly. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, our experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers know the serious situation you are in, and will give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.