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THEFT OFFENSES

Pennsylvania theft violations can be as insignificant as petty retail theft, with minimal penalties if convicted, but can be much more serious, and incur much greater punishments for charges such as identity theft. Common criminal theft charges prosecuted in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas can include:

West Chester Theft Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a theft offense in Chester County, or the surrounding of Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Montgomery County or Lancaster County, contact the Skinner Law Firm. Michael J. Skinner is an experienced attorney who will make every effort to help you find the best possible outcome in your situation. Call (610) 436-1410 for a consultation today.


Pennsylvania Theft Violations Information Center


Terms in Pennsylvania for Theft Offenses

Conceal – Concealment of merchandise for the purposes of theft in Pennsylvania means to hide the merchandise so that it is not visible through ordinary observation.

Deception – In Pennsylvania, deception can be creating a false impression, or reinforcing someone else’s false impression; preventing someone else from acquiring information that would affect his decision as to whether make a decision; or failing to correct a false impression. This does not include exaggerations that would not deceive an ordinary person or matters that do not involve financial gain.

Merchandise – Any goods, items, food or wares of any type and description, regardless of the value.

Receiving – For the purpose of theft in Pennsylvania, this term means to acquire possession of the property, control of title of the property, or use the property as security to receive a loan.

Writing – for the purposes of theft offenses, a writing includes printing or any other method of recording information, coins, credit cards, electronic signatures, money, tokens, seals, stamps, trademarks, and other symbols of value or identification.


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Common Theft Violations in Pennsylvania

Some of the most common theft violations in Pennsylvania that can result in fines or even imprisonment include, but are not limited to:

  • Theft / Theft by Deception under Pennsylvania Consolidates Statutes Title 18 § 3922 occurs when a person intentionally obtains or keeps the property of another person by deception.
  • Receiving Stolen Property – Pennsylvania Consolidates Statutes Title 18 § 3925 – A person can be convicted of this offense if they intentionally received, kept, or disposes of movable property of someone else’s, knowing or believing the property was stolen.
  • Retail Theft – According to Pennsylvania Consolidates Statutes Title 18 § 3929, a person can be convicted of this offense if they take possession of or remove merchandise from a store with the intent to deprive the store of the merchandise. A person also can commit this offense if they alter or remove any labels, tags, or security devices of merchandise with the intent to deprive the store of the merchandise. If a person intentionally conceals merchandise, they are presumed to have done so with the intent to deprive the store of the merchandise.
  • Forgery – is defined as altering any writing of someone else without his authority or making a  writing that appears to be the act of someone else with the intent or knowledge to defraud or injure someone, according to Pennsylvania Consolidates Statutes Title 18 § 4101.
  • Bad Check Writing – Under Pennsylvania Consolidates Statutes Title 18 § 4105, a person can be convicted of this offense if they write a check or some other payment of money, knowing it will not be paid due to a closed account, insufficient funds, it was counterfeit, or any other method that will not allow the check to be paid.
  • Identity Theft – According to Pennsylvania Consolidates Statutes Title 18 § 4120, this can occur when a person possesses or uses identifying information of another person without that person’s consent, or for any other unlawful purpose. Each use of the person’s identity is considered a separate offense under Pennsylvania law.

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Penalties for Theft Offenses in Pennsylvania

A conviction for any Theft or Theft by Deception Offense can range from a misdemeanor of the third degree to a felony of the second degree, depending on the item(s) involved in the theft, and when the theft occurred. Penalties can include jail time and/or fines.

Retail Theft Offenses can be a summary offense, misdemeanor of the first or second degree, or felony of the third degree depending on the number of offenses previously committed and the amount of the merchandise taken. A conviction can include jail time and/or fines.

Forgery can be either a misdemeanor of the first degree, felony of the third degree or felony of the second degree, depending on what is forged. A conviction of any of these degrees can include jail time and/or fines.

Bad Check Offenses can be a summary offense, misdemeanor of the first, second or third degree, or a felony of the third degree, depending on the amount of the check and the number of prior offenses. These degrees are punishable by jail time and/or fines. Other penalties for writing bad checks include reimbursement of the amount of the check, interest and service charge fees.

Identity Theft can either be a misdemeanor of the first degree, felony of the third degree, or felony of the second degree, depending on the value involved in the theft and the number of prior offenses. These degrees can all include jail time and/or fines.


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Theft Crimes Resources in Pennsylvania

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.


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Working with a Dedicated Chester County Theft Lawyer

Contact the Skinner Law Firm today for a consultation about your theft offense in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas of Lancaster County. Michael J. Skinner will listen to the facts of your particular situation and help you identify any possible defenses or mitigating circumstances that will reduce your charge, or even have it dismissed. Call (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your alleged theft charge in Pennsylvania.

Michael Skinner
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