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THEFT BY DECEIT AND SIMILAR THEFT OFFENSES

Phrases like “finders keepers” or “you snooze you lose” reflect the common assumption that you find what you keep and your knowledge is your responsibility. These well-known beliefs can easily get you into trouble.

The common thread in theft by deception and other related offenses is that they involve some degree of dishonesty. Theft by deceit involves acquiring or taking something by a deceptive act or omission.

Lawyer for Theft by Deceit in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Failing to disclose a ceiling leak in an agreement to sell property or picking up a wallet and taking the money are things that some people never think of as having criminal consequences. It is important if you are charged with theft by deception, to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about the various theft crimes in Pennsylvania.

Call Skinner Law Firm to learn more about how to handle theft charges. Our offices are located in southeast Pennsylvania in West Chester.

Attorney Michael J. Skinner represents clients accused of misdemeanor and felony offenses throughout the Boroughs of West Chester.


Different Types of Theft by Deception Crimes

The Pennsylvania criminal code separates the deceit theft crimes based on the mechanism used to carry out the theft. The crime can be charged as “theft by deception” under Section § 3922 or theft of mislaid, lost, or property delivered by mistake is charged under Section 3924.


Under Section § 3922, a person is guilty of theft by deceit if he or she intentionally withholds property or obtains another person’s property by some method of deceit. Intentional deceit includes the following:

  1. the defendant is creating or reinforcing a false impression;
  2. the defendant intentionally preventing another person from acquiring information that would affect his judgment in a transaction; or
  3. the defendant failing to correct a false impression which he or she previously created or reinforced; or
  4. the defendant failing to correct a false impression that he or she knew to be influencing someone that he or she stood in a fiduciary or confidential relationship with.

False impressions include misrepresentations as to the value, law, intention, or another state of mind,

Deception does not include, however, falsity regarding matters that have no pecuniary significance or puffing by using statements that are unlikely to deceive ordinary persons addressed.

Theft of Mislaid, Lost Property under Section § 3924

Under Section 3924, theft by deception and theft by lost, mislaid or mistakenly delivered property are similar in that the deceiver knows that the property does not belong to them and that not returning it is dishonest.

A person is guilty of theft of mislaid, lost property, or delivered by mistake when he or she comes into control of property that he or she knows to have been mislaid, lost, or delivered under a mistake as to the identity of the recipient or the nature or amount of the property.

Failing to take reasonable measures to return the property to its rightful owner or intended to deprive the owner of the property are also elements of Section 3924.


Penalties for Theft Crimes in Pennsylvania

The value of the stolen property, and sometimes what the defendant took, will determine the punishment for theft.

Felony Theft:

Stealing property, which has a value that exceeds $2,000, constitutes a third-degree felony. Stealing an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, etc…, may also result in a third-degree felony charge. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to seven (7) years in jail and up to $15,000 fines.

Stealing property that is valued between $100k and $500k or stealing a firearm or anhydrous ammonia constitutes a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to ten (10) years in jail and up to $25,000 fines.

Stealing property that is valued at $500k or more is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to twenty (20) years in jail and up to $25,000 fines.

Misdemeanor Theft:

When the property stolen is valued between $200 and $2,000 the charge is a first-degree misdemeanor. First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to five (5) years in jail and up to $10,000 fines.

When property stolen is valued between $50 and $200 then the charge is a second-degree misdemeanor. Second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to two (2) years in jail and up to $5,000 fines.

When the property stolen is valued less than $50 the charge is a third-degree misdemeanor. Third-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to one (1) year in jail and $2,000 fines.

Additional Resources

18 P.A. §3924 – Visit the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the official website of the Pennsylvania Legislature for the full version of the theft statute, including the other theft offenses such as theft by deception, and theft by mislaid, lost, or property delivered by mistake.


Find an Attorney in Chester County, PA, for Theft by Deception

If you or someone you know was charged with theft by deception, receiving stolen property, or other similar crimes, call an attorney who will fight to lessen your chances of jail time.

Attorney Michael J. Skinner represents clients accused of misdemeanor and felony offenses throughout the Boroughs of West Chester in Chester County, Lancaster in Lancaster County, Norristown in Montgomery, County and Media in Delaware County.

Call Skinner Law Firm to learn more about how an attorney can help with theft charges. Our offices are located in southeast Pennsylvania.

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