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What You Need to Know About Pennsylvania Theft Crimes

Theft is generally defined as taking someone else’s property without their permission and with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property. In Pennsylvania, common forms of theft include theft of services, theft by deception and theft by unlawful taking. The degree of the crime depends on the value of the property stolen and whether force was used in the taking.

Theft crimes may be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies, with jail time and fines imposed based on the amount of property stolen. The maximum penalties are as follows:

  • Property worth $50 or less — one year in jail and a $2,500 fine
  • Property worth more than $50 but no more than $200 — two years in jail and a $5,000 fine
  • Property worth more than $200 but no more than $2,000 — five years in prison and a $10,000 fine
  • Property worth more than $2,000 but no more than $100,000 — seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine
  • Property worth more than $100,000 but no more than $500,000 — 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine
  • Property worth more than $500,000 — 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine

Some crimes are considered theft because they involve a motive to steal. For example, robbery — the use or threat of use of force to obtain property without the owner’s permission — is considered a subcategory of theft.

Some crimes, such as retail theft, are subject to lesser punishment. As a first offense, taking items from a store is charged as a summary offense if the items allegedly taken are valued at $150 or less. In this case, the possible penalties include a maximum of 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300.

It’s important to know how to defend yourself against theft charges in Pennsylvania. Your criminal defense lawyer can consider raising the following defenses, among others:

  • Insufficient evidence — If all the prosecutor can prove is that you had something in your possession that didn’t belong to you, this likely isn’t enough to prove theft, although it may support a charge of a lesser crime.
  • No intent to deprive —Your lawyer can present evidence that although you had someone else’s property, you had no intention to permanently deprive them of that property.
  • Mistaken identity or alibi — Another defense is that it wasn’t you who stole the property. For example, if there’s video of a retail theft and the police think you were the one in the video, your lawyer can present evidence that you were elsewhere at the time.

If you or a loved one has been charged with theft or any related crime, Attorney Matthew R. Zatko in Somerset will provide an aggressive defense in your case. Arrange a consultation by calling 814-443-1631 or contact me online.