Central PA Premier Family Law Firm
Theft Equipped to Handle Your Defense

Pennsylvania Theft Lawyer

Strong advocacy if you’ve been charged with a theft crime

There are many different types of theft crimes in Pennsylvania. The types of crimes and the seriousness (felony or misdemeanor) depend on many factors such as:

  • Was the property tangible?
  • Was the property movable?
  • Was force used to commit the theft?
  • Did the theft involve an element of trust with the victim?

The experienced Central PA theft defense lawyers at the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenters fight aggressively to obtain dismissals of the charges, to negotiate just plea bargains that reduce the charges to lesser offenses, and to seek acquittals before a jury of your peers. We work with appraisers to show the value of the items are less than charged. We work to show that you had a legal claim to the items that were taken.

What types of theft crimes can someone be charged with in Pennsylvania?

Some of the many types of theft crimes in Pennsylvania include:

  • Theft by unlawful taking or disposition.
  • Theft by deception
  • Theft by extortion
  • Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Theft of services
  • Theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received.
  • Unauthorized use of automobiles and other vehicles.
  • Retail theft.
  • Theft of trade secrets.
  • Theft from a motor vehicle.

Theft of movable property generally means taking property the belongs of items that belong to another such as retail theft or taking someone’s car. Theft can also include exercising control over someone else’s property such as accessing their bank accounts and taking money from the account. Theft by deception includes taking property under deceptive conditions such as creating a false idea that you have a right to property when you don’t.

Each type of theft crime has specific requirements. A common defense is to argue that one or more of these specific requirements haven’t been met. For example, receiving stolen property is defined as follows: Receiving stolen property.

(a) Offense defined. A person is guilty of theft if he intentionally receives, retains, or disposes of movable property of another knowing that it has been stolen, or believing that it has probably been stolen, unless the property is received, retained, or disposed with intent to restore it to the owner.

(b) Definition. As used in this section the word "receiving" means acquiring possession, control or title, or lending on the security of the property.

How are theft offenses categorized?

Whether a theft is a felony or a misdemeanor and the degree of the offense generally depends on the value of the property that was taken, controlled, or illegally received. The grades of theft offenses are as follows:

  • Felony in the 1st degree. The value of the property is $500,000 or more - or “in the case of theft by receiving stolen property, the property received, retained or disposed of is a firearm and the receiver is in the business of buying or selling stolen property.”
  • Felony in the 2nd degree. The value of the property is $100,000 or more but less than $500,000. Other theft crimes may also be felonies of the 2nd degree.
  • Felony in the 3rd degree. More than $2,000 or “if the property stolen is an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat or other motor-propelled vehicle, or in the case of theft by receiving stolen property, if the receiver is in the business of buying or selling stolen property.”
  • Misdemeanor in 1st the degree. More than $200 and less than
  • Misdemeanor in the 2nd degree. $50 or more and less than or equal to $200
  • Misdemeanor in the 3rd degree. Less than $50.

A few notable theft-related crimes

Burglary, entering a building illegally with the intent to commit a crime inside, is a separate crime – though if you steal any property while inside the building, you could be charged with both burglary and theft.

The most serious type of theft crime is robbery. Robbery can be charged if someone, while committing a theft, also – causes serious bodily injury, threatens a victim with immediate serious bodily injury, commits a felony of the 1st or 2nd degree, uses force to take the property, or other statutory conditions are met.

Robbery of a motor vehicle is treated separately.

What are some of the possible defenses to theft charges in Pennsylvania?

The defenses vary depending on the crime that is charged and what actually happened. Some of the defense our Pennsylvania theft defense lawyers may assert include:

  • A claim of ownership. We work to show you had some reason to believe you were entitled to the property.
  • Lack of intent. Theft crimes generally require that the prosecution show that you intended to commit the theft offense. Intoxication or being under the influence of drugs may a defense to an intent-crime.
  • Entrapment. Here, we argue that someone on behalf of the government such as a law enforcement officer induced you to commit the theft crime.
  • You just borrowed the item. You meant to return it.

The value of the property is generally based on its fair market value. We may work with an appraiser to show the property is less than what the prosecution says its worth – in order to reduce the crime to a lower-level offense.

It’s important to seek help after a theft offense as soon as possible – while the events surrounding what happened are fresh in your mind. At the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, our theft defense lawyers work aggressively to show at least one element of the offense can’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. We work to exclude evidence that was illegally obtained by the police. To speak with an experienced trial lawyer, call us at: (717) 537-0928 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.

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