The decision to commit a theft is not often well thought out or planned. And the reasons for theft can vary greatly. Sometimes, it is out of necessity, and at other times, out of greed. Theft charges occur frequently in Pennsylvania, and understanding your rights if you are charged is essential because theft charges can produce a multitude of results and levels of convictions.
Being charged with theft by unlawful taking is defined as depriving a person of their property by obtaining illegal control of it. Unlawful theft involves an individual’s property, meaning it is not taken from a retail business or establishment but from another individual. The courts will review your actions to determine if the crime of unlawful taking was committed.
Convictions of theft can have wide-ranging consequences. A West Chester criminal defense attorney can help you assess the charges you are facing by looking at evidence and determining if these charges can be reduced or dropped if legal technicalities exist.
Pennsylvania’s Categories of Unlawful Taking
Two categories of unlawful taking exist in Pennsylvania law.
Any property owned by a person that can be transported with them is called movable property. There are many examples of movable property, such as:
- Electronic devices such as cell phones
These items can be taken from a home, an automobile, or off of a person.
Often considered intangible, these properties cannot be moved to another location and are unlawfully controlled to deprive another. Immovable property often includes white-collar crimes and can consist of:
- Theft of a deed for land or a structure
- Illegal gain of another’s stocks or financial assets
Charges and Penalties Associated With Unlawful Taking
Penalties for unlawful taking will depend on the value of the property and the category the property falls under.
Properties under $50 or without evidence of value will carry a fine of $300 and a maximum of 90 days of jail time.
Second Degree Misdemeanor
Theft of property that is valued greater than $50 but less than $200 has a maximum term punishable by no more than two years in prison.
First Degree Misdemeanor
These charges result from properties taken by threat or force, constituting a robbery. The penalty consists of no more than five years in prison if convicted.
Third Degree Felony
Properties valued at over $2000 but less than $500,000 and classified as motor vehicles carry a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.
Second Degree Felony
If the property stolen is a firearm, the maximum sentencing will be ten years in prison.
First Degree Felony
These felony charges include the theft of a firearm and proof that there was an intention of buying and selling firearms. Stolen property valued at $500,000 or more will cause the charge to be changed to a first-degree felony. If convicted, a sentence of at least ten years in prison will be handed down.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Team Fighting for Your Rights
Each individual is innocent until proven guilty under the law. Working with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense team is always critical, with penalties for theft by unlawful taking varying considerably. Ciccarelli Law Offices will work for the best possible outcome and will vigorously litigate your claim, applying a vast knowledge of the law and unrelenting determination to any Pennsylvania criminal defense.