Theft charges can come with significant ramifications in the state of Pennsylvania, especially if the stolen property was particularly valuable or protected by law. Theft charges are also enhanced if someone was threatened or harmed during the commission of the crime. While some theft charges are misdemeanor offenses and come with nominal punishments, felony theft can result in substantial jail time and other negative outcomes that affect the life of the defendant for years. It is often the case that a misunderstanding or isolated mistake can lead to the defendant being charged with theft. Your best recourse when facing theft charges is to seek out the counsel of our Westmoreland County theft attorney to benefit from years of expertise in the criminal courts.
Theft encompasses a number of different crimes in Pennsylvania. Some of the most common theft charges include:
- Retail theft
- Theft by unlawful taking
- Theft by deception
- Receiving stolen property
- Writing bad checks
- Theft of intellectual property
- Identity theft
The specific theft charge depends on several factors, including the value of the stolen goods or services, your prior criminal record, and whether or not violence was used during the commission of the crime. Misdemeanor theft, for example, includes thefts under $2,000. Felony thefts include third-degree thefts (value from $2,0001 to $99,999); second-degree thefts (value from $100,000 to $499,999); and first-degree theft (value from $500,000 or more). Charges may be escalated for defendants who have been convicted of theft in the past.
Your previous criminal history has a big role to play in the penalties and punishments assessed in your theft case. The courts look at whether the theft was a misdemeanor or felony and the degree of the crime. Prison time can run from one to five years for misdemeanor theft, with fines of $2,000 to $10,000. For second- and third-degree felony theft, ail time can be from seven to 10 years, and fines may be from $15,000 to $25,000. For first-degree felony theft, convicted parties may receive up to 20 years in jail and fines of $25,000.
While the penalties for criminal theft are harsh, collateral fallout from being convicted of theft can be equally brutal. Once you have served your time behind bars, you face the world with a criminal record that can bar you from certain types of employment, prevent you from seeking higher education, and even keep you from owning or renting a home. A theft conviction may also have an impact on your immigration status. The more serious the crime, the more difficult it will be to overcome the consequences post-conviction.