Pennsylvania Theft Law
Theft is a term used to describe any act that involves taking another person's property unlawfully, through deception, without the owner's consent, and with intent to deprive the owner of such an item. According to Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18 Section 3921:
- Movable Property – A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises unlawful control over, movable property of another with intent to deprive him thereof.
- Immovable Property – A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully transfers, or exercises unlawful control over, immovable property of another or any interest therein with intent to benefit himself or another not entitled thereto.
Some of the most common examples of theft offenses in Pennsylvania include:
- Theft by unlawful taking (stealing)
- Theft by deception
- Retail theft (shoplifting)
- Theft of lost property
- Vehicle theft
- Receiving stolen property
- Drive-off gasoline theft
- Firearm theft
Classification of Theft Charges and Possible Penalties
Depending on the value of the property taken and other surrounding circumstances, theft offenses may be classified under the following categories:
A theft crime is considered to be a misdemeanor offense if it falls under any of the following categories:
- Third-Degree Misdemeanor: Property value worth is $50 or less, punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor: Property value is worth between $50 and $200, punishable by up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000
- First-Degree Misdemeanor: Property value is worth between $200 and $2,000, punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000
Third-Degree Felony Theft
A theft offense is classified as a third-degree felony if any of the following applies:
- The value of the property stolen is between $2,000 and $100,000.
- The property stolen is an automobile, motorcycle, airplane, motorboat, or another motor-propelled vehicle.
- The receiver of stolen property is in the business of buying or selling stolen property.
Penalties: Third-degree felony theft is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.
Second-Degree Felony Theft
A theft offense is classified as a second-degree felony if any of the following applies:
- The value of the stolen property is between $100,000 and $500,000.
- The offense is committed during a natural, manmade, or war-caused disaster.
- The stolen property is a firearm or anhydrous ammonia.
- The receiver of a stolen property received, retained, or disposed of a firearm.
Penalties: A defendant found guilty of second-degree felony theft may be facing up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000.
First-Degree Felony Theft
A theft offense is classified as a first-degree felony if the value of the property stolen is $500,000 or more.
Penalties: The offense is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000.
A skilled theft attorney can enlighten you about the immediate and long-term consequences of a theft conviction and outline an effective defense strategy for your case.
Possible Defenses for Theft
When facing larceny allegations, your attorney may try to fight your theft charges using any one of the following defenses:
- Lack of intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property
- The owner gave his or her consent
- The property was not in fact stolen
- The rightful owner might have lost the property
- Planned to search for the rightful owner and return the item back to them
A skilled theft attorney can evaluate the surrounding circumstances of your case and determine your best defenses.
Work With a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney
Theft or larceny allegations are serious and can jeopardize your reputation, freedom, and personal and professional future. Unfortunately, defending your theft charges without experienced representation could possibly increase your risks of suffering the maximum penalties. Therefore, when facing theft accusations, it is important that you hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and help build your defense strategy.
At Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., we have dedicated our careers to providing experienced legal guidance and strong representation to clients in their larceny or theft cases. As your legal counsel, we can review and investigate every last detail of your personal situation and outline an effective defense strategy to maximize your chances of getting the best possible outcome for your case.
Using our in-depth legal understanding, we can help you navigate the Pennsylvania criminal justice system and guide you through every step of the legal proceedings. We will fight diligently to protect your freedom and attempt to keep your record as clean as possible.