Fighting Theft Charges in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, taking another person’s property, or theft, is a crime punishable under the law. While the severity of the punishment for theft will depend upon the type of theft committed, all legal ramifications are undesirable and can have a limiting effect on a person’s life and future prospects.

If you are facing theft charges in Pennsylvania the following can provide you with more information about what constitutes theft, as well as what consequences you may face. Furthermore, it is important to note that if you have been charged with theft in Pennsylvania, it is within your best interest to retain legal counsel immediately.

Types of Theft in Pennsylvania 

According to 18 Pa. Const. Stat. Sec. 3921, there are two different definitions for theft. The first type of theft in Pennsylvania is theft of moveable property, and is defined as a person unlawfully transferring, or exercising control over, “moveable property of another with the intent to deprive him thereof.”

The second type of theft in Pennsylvania is known as the theft of immovable property, and in contrast, occurs when a person unlawfully transfers or exercises control over property of another that is immovable, with the intent to benefit himself or another person not entitled to the property. This may include real estate.

In addition to the two different definitions and types of theft in Pennsylvania, the state also classifies theft offenses into different degrees of misdemeanors or felonies depending upon the value of the property taken.

Potential Consequences for a Conviction of Theft

The consequences of a theft conviction differ depending upon the type and classification of theft committed. In the least severe cases, a theft charge will result in a third-degree misdemeanor charge, punishable by a fine of no more than $2,500 and an incarceration sentence of no more than one year. This punishment is reserved for those who commit theft of property that is worth no more than $50.

As the value amount of property that was involved in the theft increases, the penalties for theft increase. If the theft involved property that was more than $50 but less than $200, then the crime is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor, and carries a sentence of no more than two years of incarceration and a fine of no more than $5,000. Theft of property valued at more than $200 is classified as a misdemeanor of first degree, and may be punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

In addition to the three types of theft classified as misdemeanors, there are also three types of felony theft. Third-degree felony theft involves property that is valued at more that $2,000 or is a motor vehicle, airplane, motorcycle, etc. The punishment can be up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

If a firearm was stolen, or if the offense was committed during a natural disaster, or the value of the property is at least $100,000 but no more than $500,000, the crime is considered a second-degree felony. A felony of the first degree may be the conviction if a firearm is involved and if the defendant was involved in purchasing or selling stolen property, or if the value of the property is at least $500,000.