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Home 9 Theft 9 PA Theft Laws: The Differences Between Robbery, Burglary, & Theft

PA Theft Laws: The Differences Between Robbery, Burglary, & Theft

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If you ever find yourself charged with a theft-related crime in Pennsylvania, it’s important to understand the different laws and regulations surrounding robbery, burglary, and theft. Depending on your case’s particular circumstances, any of these charges could carry varying penalties if convicted, so understanding each type is essential for making informed decisions about your situation.

At Marinaro Law, we understand the nuances and differences in PA theft laws. So if you have been charged with one of these crimes, it’s imperative for you to get in touch with a theft lawyer in Lancaster, PA, like us. We can help defend your rights and protect your future.

What Does Being Charged with Theft in Pennsylvania Mean?

PA theft laws define theft as stealing or unauthorized use of someone else’s possessions with the intent to deprive them. This can include any form of property, such as money, goods, or services. Depending on various criteria, which may include value acquired from stolen items and if force were used in the act itself, a conviction for theft would usually be categorized either as a misdemeanor or felony.

For example, a theft conviction of stealing items or money worth less than $50 is usually regarded as a misdemeanor offense which may lead to fines up to $1,000 and imprisonment for one year. However, suppose the stolen property has an estimated value of over $2,000. In that case, it could be charged as a felony with potential penalties, including prison time extending up to seven years and financial repercussions reaching as much as $15,000.

What Are the Different Categories of Being Charged with Theft in Pennsylvania?

PA theft laws deem theft a criminal offense with four distinct categories, contingent upon the value of the stolen property and other pertinent components. Depending on these elements, those found guilty can be liable for punishments that range from financial penalties to jail time.

Petty Theft

The first category of theft in Pennsylvania is petty theft, also known as a summary offense. This offense is the least serious type of theft, and it involves taking or using property valued at less than $50. Depending on the crime’s severity and prior offenses, petty theft can be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to one year.

Misdemeanor Theft

Misdemeanor theft occurs when the stolen property’s value is between $50 and $200 and carries potential fines of up to $2,500 and jail time of two years or less. If convicted for such a crime, you could face a second-degree misdemeanor and serious penalties that could impact your life long-term. However, if the value of the item is between $200 and $2,000, a person can be found guilty of first-degree misdemeanor theft. The punishment for this crime is up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Felony Theft of Property

The third category is felony theft of property, a third-degree felony, which is typically charged when the stolen property has a value greater than $2,000 but does not exceed $100,000. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, those convicted may face punishments such as fines up to $15,000 or imprisonment for seven years.

Felony Theft by Unlawful Taking

Lastly, there’s felony theft by unlawful taking or second-degree felony. It applies in cases where stolen property exceeds $2,000 and includes things like motor vehicles or firearms. In Pennsylvania, those found guilty can receive both fines totaling up to $25,000 and imprisonment lasting up to 10 years.

Other Factors For Sentencing Theft Charges

Under Pennsylvania law, the extent of punishment for theft charges depends on several factors, including the type and value of stolen goods involved and any previous convictions for similar offenses. In Pennsylvania, individuals who are charged with theft over $2,000 are prosecuted under felony-level charges. The consequences for these types of charges are more severe than those associated with less significant thefts and may include heavier fines or longer periods of incarceration.

What Do Retail Theft Charges Mean in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, retail theft is defined as taking possession of or transferring merchandise from a retail establishment without paying for it in full. It can also mean altering or removing a price tag to pay a lower price. Or perhaps if a cashier intentionally under rings merchandise or deactivates a security device from an item to allow a person to leave without paying for it, it’s also considered retail theft, according to PA theft laws.

This crime applies to all items, from small items like candy to expensive items like electronics. Any individual caught committing retail theft can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the stolen merchandise.

If the value of stolen items exceeds $1,000 or the defendant has been previously convicted, they may be charged with a felony. Subsequently, those found guilty could face fines up to $15,000, imprisonment for seven years, and probation and restitution payments back to the store owner. As part of their penalties, depending on characteristics such as prior criminal record, defendants might also be mandated to render community service or partake in crime prevention programs.

How Does Theft Differ from Robbery and Burglary Charges in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, theft is classified as a property crime and is distinct from robbery and burglary charges. While theft involves the illicit taking of another person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property, robbery, and burglary are considered more violent charges.

Robbery Charges in Pennsylvania

Robbery is a type of theft that involves threats or violence against a victim to take their property. It is more serious than theft because it involves taking something from another person by force, threat of force, or intimidation. Theft crimes involve taking property without physical contact between the perpetrator and victim.

Under PA theft laws, if a deadly weapon is used to commit a robbery offense, it will result in felony charges. Also, if any physical confrontation transpires between the offender and victim, it is considered a felony offense in Pennsylvania. Even without using weapons or any contact with those involved, this state still holds robbery as an extreme crime.

In addition to being much more severe than theft crimes, robberies are also generally more complex from a legal perspective. This complexity is because law enforcement often must prove that there was an intent to commit a crime involving force and violence before reaching a conviction. As such, robbery cases can take longer to investigate and prosecute than typical theft cases.

The punishment for robbery offenses varies depending on the severity of the crime committed. If convicted of a first-degree felony offense in Pennsylvania, an individual may face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. For second-degree felonies, you can receive up to 10 years in prison with fines up to $25,000. Third-degree felonies carry sentences of up to seven years in prison with fines exceeding $15,000.

Burglary Charges in Pennsylvania

Burglary generally refers to breaking into someone’s home or another building with the intent to commit a crime once inside, which is typically theft of some sort. Burglary requires that there was an unlawful entry into someone’s home while they were away at some point during the crime.

Burglary is deemed a more serious crime than theft since it necessitates an illegal entry into someone’s home or building, which can be interpreted as a danger to the safety of those residing in or entering at the time. This charge requires that there must have been an unlawful entrance before any theft could occur.

Burglary is a serious criminal offense with potentially severe consequences, including possible imprisonment. It’s important to remember that for burglary charges to be brought against someone, all elements of the crime must be established beyond a reasonable doubt. To prosecute such crimes successfully and convict an offender, four components need to be proven:

  • It must be shown that there was unlawful entry into the property
  • Prosecutors must show that the items stolen were worth more than a certain amount
  • They also must prove intent to commit theft when entering the premises
  • It also needs to be demonstrated that the owner of the property granted no permission or invitation before committing the offense

The main difference between burglary and theft lies in the perpetrator’s intent, according to PA theft laws. While theft implies taking property without permission, burglary implies breaking into a property to commit a crime once inside. This additional element makes burglary punishable by up to 20 years in prison, compared to one to 10 years in prison for theft, depending on the value of the items or property stolen.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer That Understands PA Theft Laws

Knowing the differences between theft, burglary, and robbery can help you prepare a better defense. But don’t go it alone. You need help from an experienced theft lawyer who will fight to protect your rights.

Attorney Marinaro is well versed in PA theft laws. If you’ve been charged with theft in Lancaster, PA, and are looking for a criminal defense attorney that can help, Marinaro Law Firm has you covered. Contact us to schedule your legal consultation today!


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