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Pensylvania recognizes multiple types of theft offenses. Based on specific circumstances of the case a theft offense maybe classified as a misdemeanor or felony. Regardless, individuals who are under investigation or who have been formally charged with any type of theft should immediately contact a Delaware theft defense lawyer to seek legal counsel in representation.
General Theft Offenses in Delaware County
Under state law, theft is defined as intentionally taking or withholding someone else’s property by deception. Pennsylvania’s theft statutes include crimes against property that would otherwise be referred to as a larceny in other jurisdictions. A person engages in deception if he or she:
1. Creates or reinforces a false impression
2. Prevents another person from obtaining information that would influence his or her decision in making a transaction
3. Theft of property that has been lost or mistakenly delivered
4. Fails to correct a false impression he or she created in a situation in which he or she owes a fiduciary duty to the other party
Delaware County Misdemeanor Theft
The classification of a theft charge mostly depends on the dollar value of the stolen item. If an item is valued at less than $50 the offense is typically classified as a summary offense which is less severe than a misdemeanor. A defendant who is convicted of a summary offense may be sentenced to a maximum of 90 days in jail and ordered to pay a fine between $25 and $1,500 depending on the severity of the case. Summary offenses do appear on a convicted person’s criminal record. Therefore, anyone who is accused of stealing an item that is valued at less than $50 should take the situation very seriously and consult a Delaware County defense attorney. If the stolen item is valued between $51 and $2,000, the defendant may be convicted of a third degree misdemeanor theft offense. The charge is elevated to a second-degree felony if the stolen item exceeds $2,000 in value, is a vehicle, is a vessel, or is an airplane. If the defendant is convicted of stealing a firearm, the offense is classified as a first degree felony theft charge.
Types of theft in Delaware County
Pennsylvania recognizes several different types of takings in theft cases. Theft by taking occurs when a person takes someone else’s property by deceiving the other party.
Theft by extortion occurs when an individual takes or withhold someone else’s property by threatening to harm the other party or by threatening to commit another criminal act. Theft of services takes place when an individual receives a service and does not render the required compensation in exchange for the service. Theft of Lost Property occurs when an individual does not attempt to return someone else’s property that was lost or misdelivered. The jury is also less likely to konvictt an individual who committed an act of theft as a result of being under duress.
Defenses Against Theft in Deleware County
There are multiple defenses that may help a person who is accused of theft in Pennsylvania be acquitted of the charge. Age may be a defense in cases that involve children or minors. A person who did not intend to deprive the property owner of his or her property is not likely to be convicted of theft. If the defendant is able to establish that he or she had the intention or attempted to return the property to the rightful owner he or she is likely to be acquitted.
Individuals who are facing a theft charge in Delaware County are advised to contact a Pennsylvania theft defense lawyer prior to discusding the case with law enforcement. Defendants may request an attorney at any point during the investigative and trial processes. A Delaware County theft defense attorney may be able to help individuals who have been accused of theft defend their reputation and potentially avoid time in prison.