Defending a Charge of Theft in Pennsylvania

Theft Charges in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, it is a crime to take another’s property, and this act is considered theft. It is defined as one where a person takes, controls or transfers another person’s property without permission. An individual can also be charged with theft if they receive stolen property and have knowledge that it was stolen and do not intend to return it. In order to prove the crime took place, a prosecutor must present proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This is much stronger than that used in a civil case, which relies on the preponderance of the evidence. Let’s look at the theft statute. 

Property Types

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of property:

  • Movable property: In this case, the perpetrator takes another’s property to benefit themself and deprive the other person.
  • Immovable property: Here, the accused obtains control over another’s property or transfers it to benefit themself. 

How Does Pennsylvania Define Taking of Property?

The following are ways of taking property:

  • Extortion: Here, a threat of harming a person is issued or the perpetrator commits another crime.
  • Theft by deception: The perpetrator deceives another person with the intention of withholding their property.
  • Lost property: A person finds lost property and does not try to return it.
  • Services: Services can also be stolen.

How a Criminal Lawyer Defends Someone Charged With Theft

The following are used as defenses for someone charged with theft:

  • When a person is charged with stealing lost property, it is possible to say the person intended to return it but had not done so yet when they were apprehended.
  • The person’s age might be used as an argument against the charge of theft.
  • The attorney might say that his or her client did not intend to deprive the owner of their property.
  • The property was never stolen.
  • The owner consented to give the item to the person charged with theft but changed their mind.
  • Entrapment is used to charge the wrong person,

What Are the Penalties for Theft?

The final penalty that is levied against the person charged with theft depends on the severity and nature of the crime. In some cases, the property’s value is under $50 and is charged as a summary offense. This crime is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor, and although not a criminal conviction, it is considered a part of the person’s criminal history. The person may serve 90 days in jail or pay a fine of $25 to $1,500. 

A second-degree felony is one where the property is valued at more than $2,000, or the stolen property is a vehicle of some sort or an airplane. However, if a firearm is stolen, the crime is a first-degree felony. Some charges are considered a third-degree felony, and these are those where the property ranges in value from $50 to $200. 

The nature of the crime is a big factor in the charges. Depending on the severity of the crime, an individual may be ordered to spend up to seven years in jail.

Travis Law Firm

If you are charged with theft, the Travis Law Firm is here to defend you. Being convicted of a crime can change your life and make it difficult to move forward. Let our theft defense lawyers review the case against you, starting with a free review of the charges and the evidence held by law enforcement. You’d be surprised at how many mistakes are made. Call us at (814) 277-2222 to get started. If you can’t get to us, we’ll come to you.