Property Crimes Lawyer
Property crimes in Pennsylvania vary greatly. Some are relatively minor and result in a summary offense. On the other end of the spectrum are significant property crimes that can lead to felony-level charges. The property crimes lawyer at Czekaj Law, LLC has experience with all types of property offenses. Whether you are facing a summary offense or a felony charge, we are ready to investigate your situation and develop a strong defense on your behalf.
If you have been charged with a property crime in Pennsylvania, do not hesitate to ask for legal help. Contact us online, or call (717) 275-9770 to speak with a criminal defense attorney at our firm today.
Common Property Crimes in Pennsylvania
At Czekaj Law, LLC, our lawyer is highly experienced in defending individuals against property crime charges in Perry County, including:
Criminal Trespass (18 Pa. Code §3503)
It is illegal to enter or remain on the property of another person or business when you know you do not have permission to do so. If you enter or remain in a place without permission to threaten the owner, start a fire, or deface the premises, then you face a summary offense for simple trespass.
However, the criminal justice system treats many instances of trespass more seriously. If you enter or stay in a place despite posted notices against trespassing or a person telling you to leave, then you are deemed a defiant trespasser. In this situation, you may face a summary offense, third-degree misdemeanor, or first-degree misdemeanor.
The most serious type of criminal trespass involves an occupied place, such as a home, apartment building, or hotel. If you break into an occupied structure, you face third or second-degree felony charges.
In addition, you could face even more serious felony charges such as burglary for entering or remaining in property without permission for purposes of committing certain crimes.
If you have been charged with any level of criminal trespass, contact the property crimes lawyer at Czekaj Law, LLC.
Criminal Mischief (18 Pa. Code §3304)
When you hear the term “vandalism,” you likely think of actions such as spray painting the side of a building or egging a car. In Pennsylvania, this crime is known as criminal mischief. You can be charged with a summary offense, misdemeanor, or felony if you:
- Damage property negligently, recklessly, or intentionally by dangerous means
- Recklessly or intentionally tamper with another person’s property to endanger that individual or their property
- Recklessly or intentionally cause another party to suffer a financial loss due to threats or deception
- Intentionally deface or damage public or private property with graffiti
- Intentionally damage someone else’s property
- Deliberately deface property by discharging a paintball gun or paintball marker at it
A criminal mischief charge depends on whether you were acting negligently, recklessly, or intentionally. It also depends on the amount of damage you cause. Many acts of criminal mischief are summary offenses. Depending on your circumstances and criminal history, you may be able to walk away with a vandalism fine.
However, if you intentionally or recklessly cause a loss of more than $500, or you cause a loss of more than $150 for defacing property, then it is a third-degree misdemeanor. It is a second-degree misdemeanor if you acted intentionally and caused more than $1,000 in damage. It is a third-degree felony if you acted intentionally and caused damage of $5,000 or more or disruption to a public utility.
To learn more about a criminal mischief penalty, contact the property crimes lawyer at Czekaj Law, LLC.
Institutional Vandalism (18 Pa. Code §3307)
You can be charged with institutional vandalism if you intentionally desecrate, vandalize, deface, or in any way damage:
- A church, synagogue, or other religious facility
- A cemetery or mortuary
- Any school, community building, municipal building, courthouse, government building, or juvenile detention center
- Any property occupied or owned by one of the previous facilities
- Any personal property located in one of the previous facilities
Typically, institutional vandalism is a second-degree misdemeanor. However, if you are charged with an offense for desecration or causing more than $5,000 in damage, then it is a third-degree felony.
Agricultural Vandalism (18 Pa. Code §3309)
If you recklessly or intentionally deface, mark, or damage any real or personal property used in farming or other agricultural activities, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Agricultural vandalism is typically charged as a third-degree misdemeanor. However, the offense rises to a misdemeanor of the second-degree if you intentionally or recklessly cause damage of more than $500, but less than $1,000. It can also be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor if you intentionally cause a loss of $1,000, but less than $5,000. This crime is a third-degree felony if you intentionally cause damage worth more than $5,000.
Arson (18 Pa. Code §3301)
Arson that endangers other people is taken very seriously in Pennsylvania. If you are accused of the following, you will be charged with a first-degree felony:
- Intentionally starting a fire
- Agreeing to pay or help someone start a fire
- Intending to damage or destroy an occupied structure
- Recklessly endangering someone else
If you know a person is present inside the structure at the time, or you try to intentionally or recklessly cause another person harm through the fire or explosion, then this is known as aggravated arson.
If you intentionally or recklessly start a fire on or in an unoccupied property, or you pay or aid someone to start a fire, then this is a second-degree felony. This charge also encompasses the crime of burning or attempting to burn your own property for the insurance proceeds.
If you’re facing charges for an arson offense, call our property crimes lawyer for help today.
Reckless Burning (18 Pa. Code §3301(d))
You can be charged with a third-degree felony if you intentionally start a fire and end up recklessly placing an unoccupied structure or personal property worth more than $5,000 in damage, or any vehicle, motorcycle, plane, or boat in danger of destruction. For example, if you started up your charcoal grill and you were not attentive, and your neighbor’s garage (which contained their car) caught on fire, you could be charged with this offense.
Possible Penalties for Pennsylvania Property Offenses
The statutory penalty you face depends on the level of the charge. Incarceration and fines for Pennsylvania summary offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies are as follows:
- Summary offense – Up to 90 days in jail, and fines reaching $300
- Third-degree misdemeanor – Up to one year in jail, and fines up to $2,500
- Second-degree misdemeanor – Up to two years in jail, and fines reaching $5,000
- First-degree misdemeanor – Up to five years in jail, and fines up to $10,000
- Third-degree felony – Up to seven years in prison, and a fine reaching $15,000
- Second-degree felony – Up to 10 years in prison, and fines up to $25,000
- First-degree felony – Up to 20 years in prison, and a fine reaching $25,000
In addition to incarceration and fines, you may also be required to abide by the terms of probation, complete community service, and pay restitution to the victims of the crime. For help in avoiding these harsh consequences, call our property crimes lawyer today.
Defending Against a Property Offense
If you are facing a property crime charge, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer right away. An attorney will thoroughly review your case to determine the most appropriate defense strategy.
Examples of potential defenses to property crimes include:
- Challenging the constitutionality of your arrest.
- Challenging evidence obtained through an unlawful search or seizure.
- Arguing that you lacked the necessary intent to commit the crime.
- Arguing that you had consent to commit your actions.
- Arguing that there has been a mistake in identity, or that you have an alibi.
- Establishing that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
The best and strongest defense for your case will depend in on the facts of your situation and your criminal history. To discuss your defense options, call Czekaj Law, LLC right away.
Call Our Property Crimes Lawyer Today
At Czekaj Law, LLC, we are proud to have served residents of Perry County with dependable, experienced, and personalized legal representation. This improves your chance of obtaining a fair outcome in your case. When you come to us, we will listen closely to your story, investigate the case, and determine the strongest approach. While we cannot guarantee a certain outcome in your case, we have a proven record of successful outcomes for our clients.