Theft charges are among the most common offenses seen in Pennsylvania’s courts. While the precise penalties largely depend on the value taken and the history of the accused, any theft accusation needs to be taken seriously by working with a veteran criminal defense lawyer. Aside from possible time behind bars, a theft conviction regardless of the amount involved will mark you as a dishonest person, making job searches and advancement a real challenge.
If you’ve been arrested for theft, from shoplifting to fraud in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, contact an experienced and aggressive theft lawyer at Skinner Law Firm. As a former Assistant District Attorney in Chester County, Michael J. Skinner knows how theft cases work, what diversion options are available, and how to best handle your defense.
At Skinner Law Firm, we know what you are dealing with and what it takes to secure the best possible outcome in a theft case. Call (610) 436-1410 today or contact us online for a free, initial consultation with attorney Skinner.
Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3921, a person commits a theft by unlawful taking if he or she exercises unlawful control over the movable or immovable property of another with the intent to deprive the owner to benefit himself or someone not entitled to the property in question.
Some of the most common theft violations in Pennsylvania that can result in fines or even imprisonment include, but are not limited to:
Theft charges in Pennsylvania can be classified as felonies or misdemeanors based on several factors. These include the monetary value of what was taken, the type of property in question, the accused’s prior criminal history, and if violence was used or threatened in the commission of the crime.
Third-Degree Misdemeanor Theft/Summary Offense – Up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Second-Degree Misdemeanor Theft – Up to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
First- Degree Misdemeanor Theft – Up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Third-Degree Felony Theft – Up to seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
Second-Degree Felony Theft – Up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
First-Degree Felony Theft – Up to 20 years in prison, and fines reaching $25,000.
There are also instances that can heighten or reduce the penalties you face for a theft charge. For instance, a first offense for shoplifting less than $150 in merchandise, it will likely be charged as a summary offense, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. However, penalties increase for subsequent offenses, and if you’re charged with repeated retail theft, prosecutors can use the alleged total value taken to escalate the offense rather than the amount from a single incident.
You can also face more severe penalties if the theft occurred during a disaster or the item stolen was a firearm.
Even if you avoid time in custody, a theft conviction can lead to other punishments. These include months or years of probation, theft diversion classes, and paying restitution to the victims. There are also secondary repercussions to living with theft on your permanent criminal record, like an inability to hold certain professional licenses as well as finding and maintaining employment. Also, as a crime of moral turpitude, a theft conviction may cause serious immigration issues.
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If you are ever arrested for theft in Pennsylvania, protecting your record and preserving your freedom should always be the priority. By working with an experienced theft lawyer, you can carefully review all your options and pursue the course of action that works best for you.
In some situations, we can refute the value of what was allegedly taken to reduce the charges to something more manageable. We’ve also seen people benefit from participating in theft diversion programs that ultimately lead to having the case dismissed.
We can also challenge the prosecutor’s evidence outright, and fight to have the charges thrown out or prove your innocence in court.
Pennsylvania State Police – This governmental department serves the public in Pennsylvania by seeking justice for criminal offenses, preserving the peace and improving the quality of law for all. Included on this site is information about crime prevention and current initiatives by the PSP. A Chester County office is located at:
Pennsylvania State Police
Chester County Station
997 Lieds Road
Coatesville, PA 19320
Phone: (484) 340-3241
National Association for Shoplifting Prevention – This non-profit organization seeks to prevent shoplifting nationwide, provides information on where to find help for those with a shoplifting problem, and other resources about shoplifting.
Pennsylvania theft charges can be as minor as shoplifting with minimal consequences to life-changing felony fraud charges and decades in prison. No matter the value or circumstances, reach out to Skinner Law Firm. Have former Chester County prosecutor Michael J. Skinner listen to the facts and help you identify any possible defenses or mitigating details that will reduce your charge, or even have it dismissed.
In West Chester, Phoenixville, Exton, Kennett Square, Downingtown, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, call (610) 436-1410 for a free consultation about your alleged theft charge.