Once a person is charged with a crime, the obvious question comes up: what’s the worst case scenario and what could I be facing for punishment?

In Pennsylvania, each type of crime carries with it a type of grading: Felony of the first degree, Felony of the second degree, Felony of the third degree; Misdemeanor of the first degree; Misdemeanor of the second degree, Misdemeanor of the third degree; and Summary Offenses.

If a person is convicted of a crime, there is a maximum possible sentence he could receive for that conviction.  For example, if a person is convicted of a crime that is graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree the maximum sentence of imprisonment he could face is two years.  However, within that maximum number will be sentencing guidelines the judge must consider when imposing sentence.

In order to determine a person’s sentencing guidelines, the court looks to the person’s Prior Record Score (P.R.S.) and the Offense Gravity Score (O.G.S.).  In order to determine a person’s P.R.S., the court looks to the whether the person has been convicted of a crime in the past and, if so, what crime and how many.  In order to determine O.G.S., the court looks to the score specified in the Sentencing Code for the crime for which the person has just been convicted. 

Based on those two numbers, the court will determine that person’s guidelines.  For example, if a person has just been convicted of a Simple Assault (O.G.S. of 3) and has a P.R.S. of 2, that person’s sentencing guidelines are RS (Restorative Sanctions: Probation) – 9 months imprisonment.

These are simply the basics of calculating sentencing guidelines for Pennsylvania.  Specific cases may involve mandatory minimum sentences and other unique circumstances.  It is important to consult an attorney when charged with a crime so you know the exact liability and punishment the person accused of a crime is looking at.