West Chester Criminal Defense AttorneyLarceny, burglary, and robbery are some of the more common terms people may use to describe theft offenses, but the truth is that these crimes are very specifically defined under Pennsylvania law. Depending on the circumstances, you could be charged with anything from a third degree misdemeanor up to a first degree felony. Any of these offenses involves serious penalties if you’re convicted, including fines, jail time, and probation. Considering the legal consequences you’re facing, you should retain a skilled theft crimes attorney to protect your interests. In addition, some background information should be useful.

Generally, theft involves taking or exercising control over property that belongs to someone else. Beyond this basic concept, the nature of the crime depends upon the value of the property and other factors.

Misdemeanor Theft Crimes and Penalties

  • Third Degree Misdemeanor Theft: Where the value of the assets is less than $50, third degree misdemeanor penalties apply if you’re convicted. You face a fine up to $2,500 and a jail sentence up to one year.
  • Second Degree Misdemeanor Theft: You may be convicted of a second degree misdemeanor if the value of the stolen items exceeds $50, but is less than $200. A court may sentence you to two years in jail and a fine up to $5,000.
  • First Degree Misdemeanor Theft: When the property is valued at more than $200, prosecutors may seek first degree misdemeanor charges. Your sentence may include a maximum incarceration of five years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Felony Theft Offenses and Penalties

  • Third Degree Felony Theft: If you steal property exceeding $2,000, you can be sentenced to a prison term up to seven years and a maximum fine of $15,000. You’re also facing third degree felony charges if the item is a motorized vehicle.
  • Second Degree Felony Theft: If you take an item during certain designated disaster-related scenarios, or if the property is a firearm, you’re facing incarceration up to 10 years and a $25,000 fine.
  • First Degree Felony Theft: When you engage in the business of receiving stolen property, and that property is a firearm, you may be convicted of a first degree felony. You’re looking at a prison term up to 20 years and a fine not to exceed $25,000.

Keep in mind that punishment for any of these theft offenses may be elevated in the presence of certain aggravated circumstances, such as using a gun in the commission of a crime or breach of fiduciary duty.

Talk to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in West Chester, PA

Regardless of which type of theft crime charges you face as defined under Pennsylvania law, you do have constitutional rights that say that you’re innocent until proven guilty. A prosecutor must establish your guilty through certain factors, but it may be possible to contest the evidence and present appropriate defenses in your case. The knowledgeable lawyers at the Skinner Law Firm can explain your options and work with you to develop a strong criminal defense strategy. Please contact our West Chester, PA office with questions about your matter or to set up a case evaluation to discuss the details.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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