Philadelphia Theft Lawyer

Although individuals can commit theft in various ways, the level of theft charges and accompanying penalties depends mainly on the nature of the property stolen, the method in which it was taken, and the value of the stolen property.

Theft offenses can range in severity from misdemeanor shoplifting crimes to felony armed robbery. No matter the theft charges that you are facing, you may want to look to a Philadelphia theft lawyer for advice and counsel.

The nature of a theft offense often depends on whether the charge involves tangible or movable property, such as money or merchandise, or intangible property that is fixed to a location, such as real estate. Whereas the theft of tangible property typically falls within the category of common theft, the theft of intangible property often is classified as white-collar theft or fraud.

You might need the help of a seasoned criminal attorney when law enforcement officials accuse you of any theft offense.

Methods of Theft in Philadelphia

Pennsylvania law provides for various theft offenses. Some of these offenses involve only to tangible property or intangible property, and others potentially may include both. For instance, individuals can commit theft by deception, by unlawful acquisition or disposition, or by exercising illegal control over lost or mislaid property.

Other offenses that involve elements of theft include receiving stolen property, forgery, retail theft or shoplifting, and general felony theft. Essentially, any crime that involves depriving owners of their property constitutes theft. Depriving others of their property includes withholding the property of others permanently or for an extended period that diminishes its value, with an intent to restore it only upon payment of an award, or to dispose of it in any way that makes the owners unlikely to recover it.

Typical Theft Charges

Theft charges can range from third-degree misdemeanor charges to first-degree felony charges, depending on the value of the property involved and various other circumstances. In some cases, however, the nature of the property determines the level of the charge rather than the value of the property. For example, under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3903, if the theft involves a firearm, the charge automatically is a second-degree felony offense, regardless of its value.

Generally, if the property is valued at more than $2,000, then it is a felony offense, and if it is worth less than $2,000, it is a felony offense. Pennsylvania law further categorizes many thefts based on the value of the stolen property. For instance, misdemeanor theft is classified as follows:

  • Property with less than a $50 value is a third-degree misdemeanor
  • Property valued at between $50 and $200 is a second-degree misdemeanor
  • Property valued at more than $200, but less than $2,000, is a first-degree misdemeanor

Felony charges follow a similar pattern, except for certain items of property that automatically merit specific levels of felony charges. Especially when individuals are facing felony theft charges, consulting a theft lawyer in Philadelphia may be wise.

Possible Penalties for Theft

Some theft offenses carry the potential for far lesser penalties than others. A third-degree misdemeanor theft of property worth less than $50 can result in one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a conviction for first-degree felony theft of property worth more than $500,000 may result in a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $25,000 fine.

Specific aggravating circumstances also may elevate the potential penalties for a theft offense. For instance, if individuals commit theft by armed robbery, the penalties will be higher than if no weapons were used or displayed during the theft.

A theft attorney in Philadelphia could evaluate the charges that individuals are facing and explain the full range of sanctions that they may encounter upon a conviction for the crime.

Talk to a Philadelphia Theft Attorney Today

If you or a family member are facing theft charges, your freedom and your reputation could be at stake. You may be risking a felony conviction, which can strip you of some civil rights and make some careers unavailable to you. Working with a Philadelphia theft lawyer to determine the best course of action in your case may be highly beneficial to you.

Various mitigating factors may be available in your case that only legal counsel can help you explore and present to the court. You also may have evidentiary issues and affirmative defenses that are applicable in your case.