Theft charges in Pennsylvania can result from many different situations in which you may find yourself being accused of something that you didn’t do, but the consequences of a conviction on these charges can be very serious and greatly impact your life. It’s important to understand that prosecutors in Pennsylvania pursue theft charges very aggressively, and you need a skilled and experienced theft lawyer working for you to protect your rights and freedom. The theft defense lawyer at Czekaj Law, LLC has spent years helping clients who face serious criminal charges, and we understand what is needed to secure your freedom.
If you have been arrested for theft, do not hesitate to seek skilled legal counsel as soon as possible. To speak with a Perry County criminal lawyer about your case today, call Czekaj Law, LLC at (717) 275-9770 .
Theft Laws in Pennsylvania
Theft is defined as unlawfully taking, transferring, or exercising control over another person’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of it. Additionally, you can face a theft charge if you accept property that you know is stolen and you do not intend to return it to its rightful owner. This encompasses movable property or objects such as a purse or store item, and immovable property such as an interest in a bank account that is accessed through fraud or theft by deception. In order to be found guilty of theft, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally acted to commit this crime. This can be proven if it is found that you did one of the following:
- You prevented someone else from being informed about a fact that would have affected their judgment in a transaction.
- You created or reinforced a false impression, intention, value, or state of mind in order to take something that is not yours.
- You failed to correct a false impression which you created that would influence another to provide you with a fiduciary or confidential relationship.
If you are detained and charged with a theft crime, there may be numerous terms regarding details or criminal offenses which can be confusing, and you may not know if you are being charged with a theft. The following are examples of theft crimes:
- Petty Theft- This term is used to describe theft of something with low financial value. A misdemeanor theft conviction or first offense for this crime can result in jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.
- Robbery- This is theft when you take something from another individual by using force or causing fear threatening violence. In addition to theft charges, a robbery can often result in an assault charge as well.
- Shoplifting- Shoplifting charges, also known as retail theft, arise when a person takes merchandise from a store with the intention of depriving the business owner of said goods.
- Burglary- This is when someone illegally enters a building or premises in order to commit a crime.
Pennsylvania Offers Strict Punishment for Theft Convictions
The level of severity for theft crimes is mainly determined by the value of the items taken, but there is also consideration given to the offender’s criminal history. Additionally, the theft of special items, including firearms and vehicles, is more severely punished since these items are highly sought after by criminal offenders.
The punishments that can be expected for first-time offender defendants convicted of felony or misdemeanor theft in PA are:
- Property over $500,000- a first-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 fine
- Property over $100,000- a second-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine
- Property over $2,000- a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of $15,000
- Property over $200- a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine
- Property over $50- a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000
- Property up to $50- a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and fines reaching $2,500
Possible Defenses to Theft Charges
No one should take the possibility of a theft conviction lightly, and you may feel as though your situation is looking hopeless as the police and prosecution aggressively pursue your case. However, a skilled theft attorney understands that it takes a lot to convict you of this serious crime, and there are many possible defenses that can be used to keep you out of prison and clear your name. Of the many defenses that can be used in your theft case, some include:
- There was no intent to commit theft. The prosecution has to prove that your intention was to take someone else’s property against their will, but this can be fought aggressively by a skilled defense attorney. There are many cases when something is accidentally left in someone else’s car, house, or coat, but that does not mean it was stolen.
- You intended to search for the owner. Many times, people find something that was lost or stolen by someone else, and then they try to return it. Such a situation is not theft.
- The property was not actually stolen. Maybe you had a right to take the property. But if you are being accused of theft since the original owner forgot they gave it to you, or maybe because they are lying in order to harm you due to a pre-existing dispute, your theft lawyer may be able to argue this as a defense.
- You are the victim of entrapment. This is when the police somehow force or encourage you to do something that you otherwise would not have done. Your charges must be dropped if this is found to be the case.
A Theft Lawyer from Czekaj Law, LLC Can Help You
Theft charges can turn your world upside down, and it’s important to immediately begin fighting for your defense in order to defeat these charges. Pennsylvania prosecutors are known to aggressively pursue convictions and severe punishment for offenders, and you will need a skilled and competent Pennsylvania attorney on your side. The defense lawyer at Czekaj Law, LLC has years of trial experience, and we know how to successfully protect your rights.