Types of Property
Generally, property in Pennsylvania is categorized into two — movable and immovable property.
Under Pennsylvania law, a person is guilty of theft for unlawfully taking or exercising unlawful control over another person's movable property with an intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property. Property is considered “movable” when its location can be changed or moved including property that is “growing on, affixed to, or found inland.” An item in a retail store is a classic example of a movable item (shoplifting or retail theft).
Under Pennsylvania law, a person is guilty of theft for unlawfully transferring or exercising unlawful control over another person's immovable property with an intent to benefit themself (the actor) or a third party who isn't entitled to the property. Real estate property is an example of immovable property.
Types of Theft
Pennsylvania recognizes several types of theft of another person's property including:
- Theft By Unlawful Taking: A person is guilty of theft if they unlawfully take, or exercise control over, movable property of another with the intent to deprive them thereof
- Theft By Receiving Stolen Property: A person is guilty of receiving stolen property if they receive, retain, or dispose of someone else's movable property knowing or believing that it has previously been stolen
- Theft by Deception: This occurs when a defendant intentionally withholds another person's property through the act of deception.
- Theft by Extortion: This occurs when a defendant obtains or withholds another person's property by threatening to harm the victim or through another criminal offense
- Theft of Services: This crime is committed when a defendant intentionally obtains services which they know are available only for compensation, by deception, threat, or by altering or tampering with a public utility meter or similar device
- Theft of Lost Property: This occurs when a defendant fails to try to return lost property to its rightful or legal owner.
Others Types of Theft
- Theft committed during a manmade, natural, or war-caused disaster
- Theft by unlawful taking
- Unauthorized use of automobiles
- Firearm theft
- Vehicle theft
- Drive-off gasoline theft
- Shoplifting or retail theft
In Pennsylvania, the punishment for theft charges usually depends on the value of the property taken and the surrounding circumstances. If convicted, possible penalties include:
Value-Based Grading System
- Property Value at $50 or Less: This is a third-degree misdemeanor. Punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of not more than $2,500.
- Property Value Between $50 and $200: This is a second-degree misdemeanor. Punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a fine of not more than $5,000.
- Property Value Between $200 and $2,000: This is a first-degree misdemeanor. Punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.
- Property Value Between $2,000 and $100,000: This is a third-degree felony. Punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a fine of not more than $15,000.
- Property Value Between $100,000 and $500,000: This is a second-degree felony. Punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of not more than $25,000.
- Property Value of $500,000 or more: This is a first-degree felony. Punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of not more than $25,000.
Types of Property Stolen
- Firearm: If the stolen property is a firearm, this is a second-degree felony. The offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of not more than $25,000.
- Automobiles: If the property stolen is an automobile, motorcycle, airplane, motorboat, vessel, or other motor-propelled vehicles, this is a third-degree felony. Punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a fine of not more than $15,000.
- Theft Committed During a Disaster: Theft committed during manmade, natural, or war-caused disaster constitutes a felony of the second degree. Punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of not more than $25,000.
- Unauthorized Use of Automobiles: This is a misdemeanor of the second degree. Punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a fine of not more than $5,000.
Possible Defenses for Theft
If you're facing larceny accusations, your attorney may attempt to fight your charges using any one of the following defenses:
- The owner consented
- Lack of intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property
- The property was not, in fact, stolen
- Planned on searching for the rightful owner and returning the property back to them
- The rightful owner might have lost the property
- Actor possesses a stolen item but with the intent to return it to its rightful owner (RSP cases)
Theft Defense Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Defending your Pennsylvania theft or larceny charges by yourself could increase your risk of suffering the maximum punishment. Therefore, when facing theft charges, having an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney on your side is paramount to determine an effective defense strategy that fits your particular circumstance.
Attorney John Della Rocca has dedicated his career to providing experienced legal services and comprehensive representation in a wide range of theft cases. As a knowledgeable Pennsylvania theft defense attorney, I will investigate every detail of your case, fight vigorously to protect your rights, determine your best defense strategy, and fight the charges against you in pursuit of a favorable outcome. As your attorney, I will attempt to establish your innocence and keep your record clean.