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You may have read that larceny is considered theft. This is not the case in the Commonwealth. According to Pennsylvania law, a theft defense is defined by whether the unlawful taking of property taken was tangible and movable or intangible and immovable. This means that here you can be charged with theft because of the value of the property or the circumstances surrounding the theft. Since theft charges in Pennsylvania are complex and serious, you or your loved one needs a tough, experienced law firm to help you.
Pennsylvania Theft Statute
The Commonwealth statute 18 Pa.C.S.A Crimes and Offenses 3921 outlines the unlawful taking of people’s property. For example, you can be found guilty of theft of movable property if you meet the following requirements:
1. You unlawfully take the movable property owned by another individual; OR
2. You exercise control of the property owned by another individual; AND
3. You have the intent to deprive the individual of the property. This means that you don’t intent to return it to them.
Examples of movable property include items at a retail store, money or a vehicle.
You can be found guilty of theft of immovable property depending on the value and/or circumstances such as you:
1. You unlawfully transferred immovable property owned by another individual; OR
2. You exercised unlawful control of immovable property owned by another individual; AND
3. You have the intent to take the property to benefit yourself and/or third party.
An example of immovable property is real estate.
Theft in Pennsylvania is a Misdemeanor and Felony
A crime is usually a misdemeanor or felony. However, in the Commonwealth it can be both offenses. This distinction is made according to the stolen property’s value or circumstances surrounding the taking of the property.
Misdemeanor theft is:
Misdemeanor in the first degree is taking property valued at more than $200, such as a waist trainer, or leather backpacks.
Misdemeanor in the second degree is taking property valued higher than $50, but less than $200.
Misdemeanor in the third degree is taking property valued at less than $50.
Misdemeanor theft conviction ranges from five years behind bars for a first degree charge to at least one year for a third degree charge.
Felony theft charges are more serious than being charged with a misdemeanor theft offense. They include:
1. Felony in the first degree theft is receiving stolen property, retaining or getting rid of a firearm or buying and selling stolen property.
2. Felony in the second degree theft is taking property during a manmade or natural disaster, taking a firearm or taking anhydrous ammonia (any amount).
3. Felony in the third degree theft is taking property value at more than $2,000 or any motor-propelled vehicle (automobile, motorcycle, airplane or motorboat).
A felony theft conviction ranges from seven to 25 years in prison and a fine.
The Elements of a Theft Charge in the Commonwealth
Commonwealth prosecutors will fight hard to prove you’re guilty of theft. This means that you must have a smart defense to combat their challenge. Prosecutors must prove one of three elements to secure a conviction:
1. You created a false impression with the intent of deceiving the victim and taking their property. This means you used a false impression or reinforced false facts to commit theft; OR
2. You prevented the victim from acquiring information that would have allowed them to make a sound judgment; OR
3. The victim already had a false impression, and you failed to correct the information. This allowed you to allegedly deceive the victim.
Our Law Firm is Here for You
Theft isn’t one of the crimes where you hope for the best. Even if you know you didn’t commit the crime, know this simple fact. The Commonwealth is doing everything possible to convict you of theft. That’s why you must have a strong, tough defense team to represent you. You need us. Our law firm will fight for you. We will protect you constitutional rights and build a solid defense for you. Contact us today.