Montgomery County, PA Theft Lawyer
Many different types of behavior can result in a charge of theft in Pennsylvania, including something as simple as changing a price tag on an item in a store. If you are charged with theft, you need to understand the potential penalties you are facing and you need to explore options to avoid conviction or reduce your sentence. A Montgomery County theft lawyer can help you to understand your legal rights and respond strategically to your charges.
Theft Offenses in Montgomery County, PA
Pennsylvania Code Title 18 Chapter 39 lists theft crimes and penalties. Prohibited behaviors under this Code Section include:
- Theft by unlawful taking: Exercising unlawful control over moveable property or transferring control of immovable property with the intent to deprive the true owner of the property (Pennsylvania Code Section 3921)
- Theft by deception: Creating a false impression or withholding information to obtain or withhold someone else’s property (Code Section 3922)
- Theft by extortion: Making threats to commit a crime, accuse someone of a crime, expose a secret, incite a strike, or withhold or take official action, in order to intentionally obtain or withhold someone’s property (Code Section 3923)
- Theft of property that has been lost or mis-delivered: Taking lost or mis-delivered property with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property and without first trying to restore the property to its owner (Code Section 3924)
- Receiving stolen property: Intentionally receiving, retaining, or keeping property you know is stolen (Code Section 3925)
- Retail theft: Shoplifting or attempting to shoplift by carrying away or transferring a merchant’s items, moving items from one container to another, changing labels or price tags, under-ringing something up, or removing security devices (Code Section 3929)
Theft of services, library theft, theft of trade secrets, and theft of leased property are other theft offenses that should result in contact with a Montgomery County theft lawyer.
Penalties for Theft Offenses in Montgomery County
Penalties if convicted of a theft offense are determined based on your criminal history and the value of stolen items. Generally:
- Theft is a third degree misdemeanor if the value of items taken was less than $50. Penalties could include up to a year incarceration.
- Theft is a first degree misdemeanor if the value of items taken were $50 to less than $200 and the property was not stolen from a person or by threat. Penalties could include up to five years incarceration.
- Theft is a third degree felony if the value of the goods exceeds $2,000 or if an automobile was stolen. Penalties could include up to seven years in prison.
- Theft is a second degree felony if a firearm is stolen, if the property stolen is valued between $100,000 or $500,000, or if the theft occurs during a natural or man-made disaster. Penalties could include as long as 10 years imprisonment.
- Theft is a first degree felony if stolen items are valued at $500,000 or greater. Twenty-years in prison is a potential penalty making it imperative that anyone accused has a Montgomery County theft lawyer on their side.
A Montgomery County theft lawyer can speak with a prosecutor about a plea bargain if you do not want to resolve your theft case in court. A prosecutor may be willing to recommend a light sentence or even to charge you with a lesser offense if you admit you committed the theft crime.
Having a Montgomery County Theft Lawyer On Your Side
If you plead not guilty, you don’t have to prove you are innocent. A prosecutor who cannot prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt cannot secure a conviction. In addition to trying to introduce doubt, you could also argue you lacked the intent to commit theft or that you were the rightful owner of the property you are accused of taking. A Montgomery County theft lawyer will help you to explore possible options for defending yourself or taking other legal steps to avoid a not guilty verdict.