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. A few of the most common property offenses in Pennsylvania include:
West Chester Property Crime Defense Attorney
Contact the Skinner Law Firm today at (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your alleged property crime. 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 to the charges against you. The Skinner Law Firm proudly represents clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Chester County and Delaware County.
Pennsylvania Property Crimes Information Center
Property Offenses in Pennsylvania
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3301 – Arson:
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 – Burglary:
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.
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3503 – Criminal Trespass:
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.
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3304 – Criminal Mischief:
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 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, 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.
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3928 – Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle:
This offense occurs when a person operates an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat, or other motor vehicle without the consent of the owner. This offense is punishable as a misdemeanor of the second degree.
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Penalties for Property Offenses 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 Pennsylvania 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:
Justification – 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.
Duress – 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.
Renunciation – 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.
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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 Online – 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.
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Finding An Attorney After a Property Crime Related Arrest
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 for a consultation about your alleged property offense.