West Chester

Property Crime Attorney

A conviction for committing a property crime in Pennsylvania can lead to serious repercussions and consequences. Depending on the severity of the offense you are charged with, you could face jail or prison time, fines, loss of educational opportunities, probation and/or an impact on your personal life.

Contact the Skinner Law Firm today at (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your alleged property crime. West Chester defense attorney Michael J. Skinner is knowledgeable and experienced with Pennsylvania’s property laws and will make every effort to help you find the best possible outcome.

The Skinner Law Firm proudly represents clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Chester County and Delaware County.

Common Property Crimes in Chester County

A few of the most common property offenses in Pennsylvania include:



18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3301 – This offense is caused by a person who intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, or somehow assists another in committing this offense, and recklessly places another person in danger, commits the act with the purpose of destroying or damaging an inhabited or occupied building or structure, recklessly places an occupied or inhabited building in danger of destruction, or intentionally damages property to collect insurance for the loss.

A person who commits arson endangering persons can be convicted of a felony of the first degree, or if they commit murder from the arson, their sentence can increase to death or life imprisonment without parole. If a person commits arson endangering property, they can be convicted of a felony of the second degree.



18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3502 – A person commits this offense if they enter a building, or occupied structure, with the intent to commit a crime in the building, unless the building is open to the public at the time, or they are authorized to enter the building. This offense is either a felony of the first or second degree.


Criminal Trespassing

18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3503 – A person can be charged with this offense if they enter or remain in a building, or break into a building or occupied structure knowing they were not licensed or privileged to do so. This offense can be a felony of the third or second degree.


Criminal Mischief

18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3304 – This offense is defined as intentionally, recklessly or negligently damaging tangible property of another; tampering with tangible property of another to endanger the person or property; causing another person to suffer financial loss from deception or threat; defacing or damaging tangible public property, or damaging real or personal property of another. Common examples of this offense are graffiti or vandalism.

This offense is punishable as a felony of the third degree if the loss is valued over $5,000, a misdemeanor of the second degree if the loss is valued over $1,000, a misdemeanor of the third degree if the property is valued over $500, and summary offense for all other criminal mischief.

Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle

18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3928 – This offense occurs when a person operates an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat, or another motor vehicle without the consent of the owner. This offense is punishable as a misdemeanor of the second degree.

our awards & memberships

  • A professional non-profit dedicated to the improvement of the criminal defense bar, and to providing valuable information to the public about drunk driving laws. Members of the NCDD are considered the most experienced DUI defense attorneys in the United States and Canada.

  • The preeminent organization in the United States. NACDL serves as a leader in identifying and reforming flaws in the criminal justice system, and addressing systemic racism, and ensuring that the criminal defense bar is fully equipped to serve all accused persons at the highest level.

  • PACDL is the premier network of the best defense attorneys in PA with a mission to educate, advocate, and inspire by providing support for criminal defense lawyers, promoting effective competence, leveling the playing field, and protecting freedoms.

  • The Pennsylvania Bar Association promotes and protects the legal profession, the rights of Pennsylvania citizens and access to justice for all. Membership is open to any lawyer in good standing who is licensed by the Bar of Pennsylvania.

  • The American Bar Association is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations, with over 400,000 members and more than 3,500 entities. Their mission is to serve its members, the legal profession, and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.

  • The CCBA promotes professionalism, inclusion, and collegiality within the Chester County legal profession, and enhances the quality of life of its members and the practice of law within the community.

  • The NORML Legal Committee (NLC) is composed of attorneys committed to the overall goals of NORML. NLC attorneys meet each year to discuss emerging legal issues related to defense of marijuana consumers and to support each other in the pursuit of justice.

  • The American Institute’s Criminal Law Division is an impartial third-party rating service recognizing the excellence of fellow practitioners. To help clients across the United States make educated decisions, we compile an exclusive list of the “10 Best” Attorneys for each State. Our “10 Best” is a prestigious honor extended only to those who have reached the top of their profession while doing so with the client’s satisfaction being of paramount importance.

  • The American Institute’s DUI/DWI Division recognizes the excellence of practitioners in the field of DUI/DWI defense. We compile an exclusive list of the “10 Best” Attorneys for each State for potential clients to utilize. We look for Attorneys that have achieved unparalleled success but most importantly have done so for the benefit of their client. Very few Attorneys can do so and our organization recognizes this significant achievement.

  • Attorney Michael Skinner has been consistently recognized as among the best lawyers in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. Attorneys are nominated via peer balloting, then vetted through our editorial process in various fields of practice.

  • The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state. Membership is extended only to the most qualified attorneys who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile. Each of our distinguished members possesses the knowledge, skill, experience, and success held by only the best and finest lawyers in America.

  • The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. The Rising Stars further distinguishes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys, and to be eligible, a Rising Stars candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Penalties For Property Crimes in Pennsylvania

The punishments and sentencing for property crimes can vary depending on the gravity score of the offense, which includes factors such as the type of crime committed, whether a weapon was used, and the circumstances surrounding the offense. The list below provides examples of the suggested maximum statutory penalties.

Felony of the First Degree

A conviction for this type of offense can result in a maximum of 20 years in prison and/or fines not exceeding $25,000.

Felony of the Second Degree

This degree of felony can lead to imprisonment for not more than 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $25,000.

Felony of the Third Degree

A conviction for this degree of felony can incur up to seven years in prison and/or fines not more than $15,000.

Misdemeanor of the First Degree

A conviction for this type of offense can lead to five years imprisonment in prison and/or fines up to $10,000.

Misdemeanor of the Second Degree

A conviction of this degree of misdemeanor can result in up to two years in prison and/or fines, not in excess of $5,000.

Misdemeanor of the Third Degree

This type of misdemeanor can lead to a maximum of one year in jail and/or fines not exceeding $2,500.

Summary Offense

A conviction for this offense can incur not more than 90 days in jail and/or fines not more than $300.

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Defenses To West Chester Property Crimes

Your criminal defense attorney will listen to the circumstances surrounding your case, and determine if there are any potential defenses to your alleged property offense. A few possible defenses to property crimes in Pennsylvania can include:


An act that would otherwise be considered a criminal offense is not if the conduct was required or authorized by law, or is necessary for an emergency situation to prevent public or private injury that is about to happen in the immediate future.


It is an affirmative defense for a person who engaged in criminal conduct to have committed the act because they were threatened by immediate violence from another person, against them or a third party, and a reasonable person would have done the same thing in the same situation.


It is an affirmative defense to a criminal offense that the offender withdrew from participation in the offense prior to the beginning of the criminal act, and made a substantial effort to prevent the act from occurring.

Defense to Burglary and Criminal Trespass

It is a defense to the charge of burglary or criminal trespass if the building the alleged offender entered was abandoned.

Reasonable Belief

It is a defense to some property crimes that the alleged offender reasonably believed the rightful owner would have consented to the actor entering a building or operating certain property.

Property Crime Resources in PA

West Chester Police Department – The West Chester Police Department is a Pennsylvania law enforcement agency dedicated to protecting and serving the community from criminal acts and enforcing the laws of Pennsylvania. The department is located at:

401 East Gay Street
West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380
Phone: (610) 696-2700

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes – Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, also cited as 18 Pa. Const. Stat., contains all of the state’s rules and regulations regarding property crimes in the state of Pennsylvania. This link goes directly to Title 18, which is entitled “Crimes and Offenses” for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Speak to a Pennsylvania Property Crime Lawyer

Contact the Skinner Law Firm today for a consultation about your alleged property crime in Chester County and the surrounding areas of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Michael J. Skinner will make every effort to help identify mitigating factors or applicable defenses to have your charges reduced or even dismissed.

Call Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your alleged property offense.