What is a Summary Offense in Pennsylvania?

What is a Summary Offense 

in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, a Summary Offense is the least serious classification of crime.  Penalties for summary offenses are not as serious as those for felonies and misdemeanors; however, you must not take summary charges lightly.  A summary conviction can still impact certain areas of your life.  So: What is a Summary Offense in Pennsylvania?

Summary Offense Categories in Pennsylvania

  1. Summary traffic offenses
  2. Non-traffic summary offenses

A non-traffic summary offense can appear on a criminal background check, which can adversely affect employment, schooling, or professional licensure. Summary traffic offenses will become a part of your driving record.

A list of Common and Interesting Summary Offenses in Pennsylvania are listed below.  Some offenses are summaries or misdemeanors depending on the circumstances, such as the value of property stolen. 

Summary Offense Examples in Pennsylvania

  • 2101 Failure to display a flag at public meetings
  • 2707.2 Unlawful use of paintball guns/markers
  • 2709 Harassment
  • 3304 Criminal mischief
  • 3306 Unauthorized use or opening of a fire hydrant.
  • 3503 Trespass
  • 3926 Theft of services
  • 3929 Retail theft
  • 3929.1 Library theft
  • 4104 Tampering with identification on personal property
  • 4105 Issue or pass a bad check < $200
  • 5106 Physician failing to report firearm injuries to police
  • 5503 Disorderly Conduct
  • 5505 Public Drunkenness
  • 5507 Obstructing Highway or other public passage
  • 5533 Cruelty to Animals
  • 6106.1 Carrying loaded weapon other than a firearm in a vehicle
  • §6301 Aiding/abetting a minor to commit truancy
  • 6305 Sale of tobacco to minors
  • 6306.1 Use of tobacco in schools
  • 6307 Misrepresentation of age to secure liquor
  • 6308 Purchase, consumption, possession or transport of alcohol by a minor
  • 6310.3 Carrying a false identification card
  • 6316 Selling/furnishing ephedrine to minors
  • 6501 Scattering rubbish
  • 6502 Discard/abandon refrigerator or icebox
  • 6503 Posting advertisement on another’s property
  • 6505 Discard/abandon television set
  • 6708 Retention of library property after notice to return
  • 6712 Illegal use of shopping carts, laundry carts
  • 6905 Attaching a nail or tack to a utility pole
  • 7101 Fraudulent entry of horses in a race
  • 7305 Sale of gasoline in glass container
  • 7315 Unauthorized disposition of donated food
  • 7365 Dealing vehicles on Sunday

Receiving a Summary Offense Charge in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, non-traffic summary offenses are issued to you directly from the police officer, or through the mail after the offense.  In either case, the citation will list the charge, the Magisterial Court assigned, the police department and issuing officer, how to enter a plea, and may have a court hearing already scheduled.

Failure to respond to a summary offense citation in Pennsylvania, depending on the summary charge, may lead to a guilty verdict and fines/costs assessed, or the issuance of a bench warrant for your arrest.

Pennsylvania Summary Offense Penalties

A non-traffic summary offense has a maximum penalty of 90 days incarceration and a $300 fine.  A sentence of imprisonment is not typical for summary offenses in Pennsylvania. Detention occurs when you have a long history of summary offenses or refuse to comply with fines/costs or other types of punishment.  For example, if you are found guilty of a summary offense for scattering trash, you will probably leave with a fine.  However, if you accumulate three more citations for scattering trash, the judge may eventually sentence you to jail for a period not longer than 90-days to send a message.

Typical sentences for non-traffic summary offenses are fines, restitution, treatment, or community service.  If convicted of multiple summary offenses in Pennsylvania, you may face a substantial financial burden due to compounding fines.  You will benefit by hiring a criminal defense lawyer who will work to avoid conviction or substantially decrease your penalties for these charges.

If you plead guilty or receive a conviction to a summary charge, the conviction can be made public and become accessible on a background check.  Having the summary conviction on your record can negatively impact your ability to obtaining housing, obtaining or retaining professional license, admission to college, employment, and clearances for government or military jobs or access to facilities.

Summary Offense Expungement in Pennsylvania

Expungement of a summary conviction can occur five years after receiving the summary conviction; you must have remained arrest-free during those five years.  Expungement will require hiring a lawyer to file the paperwork and advocate for acceptance of the expungement petition.

How Can Paul S. Peters III, Esq. Can Help

If you are charged with a summary offense in Pennsylvania, it is not something you should ignore or handle alone.  Before deciding if a lawyer will be beneficial, call Paul S. Peters III, Esq. for a FREE CONSULTATION.  Attorney Peters will give you an honest opinion on whether it is worthwhile to hire an attorney.  If not worthwhile, Attorney Peters will provide advice on how to handle the matter at your hearing.  

Paul S. Peters III, Esq. has 20 years of experience handling summary offenses in Pennsylvania’s Magisterial Courts, and knows the actions required for each type of offense to obtain the best results.  Do not waste a minute, call Attorney Peters to discuss your Summary Offense in Pennsylvania.





If you are arrested in any of the following Pennsylvania Counties:            MontgomeryPhiladelphiaBucksDelawareChesterLehigh, LancasterNorthamptonBerksAdamsCumberlandDauphinFranklinFultonHuntingtonJuniataLebanonMifflinPerrySnyderYork BradfordCameronCentreClintonLycomingMontourNorthumberlandPotterSullivanTiogaUnionCarbonColumbiaLackawannaLuzerneMonroePikeSchuylkillSusquehannaWayne, and Wyoming County 

It is important you contact the trusted, aggressive, and experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney:


Paul S. Peters III, Esquire at: