An individual commits theft when they take another person’s property with no intention of returning it. Prosecutions for theft in Pennsylvania range from shoplifting cases involving items worth a few dollars to elaborate real estate schemes involving property worth millions, and the penalties range from small fines to lengthy prison sentences. Offenders may also be ordered to make restitution to their victims.
Misdemeanor theft charges and penalties
Individuals accused of stealing property worth less than $50 in Pennsylvania are charged with third-degree misdemeanors and face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If the offender has no prior record and is genuinely remorseful, experienced criminal defense attorneys may argue that a custodial sentence is excessive and community service is more appropriate. When the property involved is worth between $50 and $199, offenders face second-degree misdemeanor charges that carry a custodial sentence of up to two years and a fine of up to $5,000. First-degree misdemeanor charges are filed against individuals accused of stealing property worth between $200 and $2,000. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania are a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Felony theft charges and penalties
Stealing property worth between $2,000 and $100,000 or taking a car, boat, plane or motorcycle without permission is a third-degree felony in Pennsylvania punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Individuals who steal property worth between $100,000 and $500,000, commit theft during a natural or manmade disaster or steal firearms or anhydrous ammonia, which is used for making bombs, are charged with second-degree felonies in Pennsylvania and face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Stealing property worth more than $500,000 or operating a business that deals in stolen property is charged as a felony in the first degree in Pennsylvania. This is the most serious theft charge and carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
Even individuals convicted of third-degree misdemeanors have criminal records that can make finding a job or renting a place to live far more difficult. This is why it is important to mount a vigorous defense against any kind of criminal charge.