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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Chester County Theft Lawyer

In Chester County, as in the rest of Pennsylvania, theft is defined as the taking of personal or commercial property and/or services with the intent to permanently deprive the lawful owner of such property or services.

Theft can occur even if the person taking the property or service once had permission to do so, if such permission has lapsed. Therefore, even the simple act of taking a vehicle for a period longer than that for which permission was granted can be considered theft.

If an individual is charged with theft in Chester County, Pennsylvania, that individual should reach out and get the advice of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Only then can an individual feel and know that his or her rights are being protected, that all of the possible outcomes of that individual’s case are being discussed and thoroughly reviewed so that the best outcome can be achieved.

Circumstances of a Case

Theft charges in Chester County can carry a number of consequences, depending on the amount of property or services involved and the manner in which they were taken. In this way, the nature of a crime can define whether a theft conviction is a misdemeanor or felony offense.

Therefore, it is important to note that theft crimes are charged in a very difficult, and sometimes unfair, fashion in Chester County. For example, thefts against elderly persons, such as thefts of services or thefts by deception, can be charged as felony offenses, while thefts against other persons may be charged as lesser crimes.

Moreover, a charge of robbery essentially involves instances of theft using force. For this reason, even a minor theft case, such as retail theft, can turn into a robbery, which is a major theft case, if any sort of force was used during the commission of that theft. Given the complicated manner in which thefts are charged in Chester County, early resolution is always beneficial to the individual being investigated.

Diversionary programs are often available for theft cases; however, restitution must be paid in full before an individual enters such a program. Still, while available, such opportunities require early action. Often, the assistance of an experienced attorney is the difference between a sentence involving incarceration or probation and dropped charges. Therefore, any individual who has been charged with a Chester County theft offense, especially one involving a minor or elderly individual, should obtain the legal representation of a Chester County theft lawyer as early as possible. Only then can he or she be assured that positive and timely resolution is possible in his or her case.

Probation or Reduced Sentencing

Theft charges may result in a number of different dispositions in Chester County, depending on the nature of the theft. However, should an experienced theft attorney in Chester County be involved from the beginning, a charge of theft may not even be processed. Additionally, if an attorney is able to show that a case is actually a civil matter and not a criminal matter, a criminal case may not be filed.

Moreover, in cases involving the theft of property or services of a lesser value in which misdemeanors are charged, probationary sentences are often available. Under such circumstances, an individual can face a probationary sentence of anywhere from three months to ten years probation, depending on the circumstances of the case. Additionally, first-time offenders often have the option of fulfilling the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) diversionary program in order to suspend pending charges and prevent such charges from appearing on his or her record.

In cases involving higher level thefts, or thefts against elderly or minor victims, common pleas entered early may reduce or prevent long incarceration sentences. However, the length of the probation available to an individual facing theft charges is often determined by the defense work that a lawyer does on his or her behalf.

Therefore, it is essential that any individual facing theft charges in Chester County have a qualified Chester County theft attorney on his or her side. A Chester County theft lawyer can be familiar with both the ARD program and similar mitigatory options that will allow the charged individual to receive a non-incarceration or probationary sentence even under the most extreme of circumstances.

Role of a Lawyer

Theft crimes in Chester County are taken seriously, especially when it comes to crimes involving private belongings and commercial properties. Therefore, any individual facing theft charges in Chester County should reach out to an attorney who has experience in handling theft crimes in that specific county.

Considerable resources are used by police and prosecutors in investigating theft cases. However, an experienced Chester County theft criminal defense attorney will have the ability to reach out to local authorities in order to seek information even before a complaint is filed.

In so doing, the attorney is in a position to negotiate with police detectives and even Commonwealth District Attorneys, which can, in turn, help to resolve the matter in a noncriminal fashion. An experienced Chester County theft attorney can then discern what, if any, defenses exist in a particular case and reach out to both the authorities and the District Attorney’s Office in hopes of resolving the matter before any public embarrassment, complaint, arrest, or even questioning occurs.

Additionally, it is often possible to resolve theft charges through restitution, rather than criminal charges; however, such opportunities are often missed without the assistance of an experienced attorney who is familiar with the jurisdiction.

What to Look for in an Attorney

First and foremost, an individual charged with theft should expect that the attorney that they hire and/or consult with has experience with all sorts of theft matters in Chester County. Thefts involve anything from low level summaries to higher level felonies.

Thefts can be treated as anything from a fine to a probationary period or even an incarceration sentence. A proper consult with an attorney involves knowing the facts, knowing the allegations and applying them to the current status of the law.

An individual seeking a theft attorney in Chester County should seek an attorney who knows the local courts well and has experience at both the local district court level as well as the Court of Common Pleas level. It is at those levels of trial in Chester County that an individual case will be heard and expedited throughout the system. In many cases, if a matter is dealt at the onset with the utmost urgency, usually at the district court level, the matter can be easily resolved, many times without even resulting in a formal arrest.

Therefore, the second thing an individual should seek in a criminal attorney is knowledge of how to expedite the matter and have it resolved in a beneficial way.

And third, an individual seeking a theft lawyer in Chester County should reach out to an attorney that they feel comfortable with, feel that the attorney has their best interest in mind and that the attorney has the knowledge and resources within his or her own office to defend such a case.

Defense Strategies

Generally, an experienced attorney will reach out to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible in a theft case in order to determine the exact crime with which his or her client is being charged.

Additionally, from the moment such an attorney takes on a theft case, he or she will protect his or her client from improper investigation, ensuring that he or she is not approached and asked to give a statement that can later be used by the prosecution. It is the attorney’s obligation to ensure that no unsupervised statements are given to investigating authorities. If the individual being charged conveys to his or her attorney that he or she did not commit the crime, that attorney can use his or her resources to investigate the matter in order to obtain additional evidence.

Ultimately, an attorney’s primary obligation is the protection of his or her client. All strategies utilized in the defense of a theft case are thus aimed at this protection.