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Philadelphia Theft Lawyer

Pennsylvania’s criminal chapter 39 outlines theft and related offenses. Other types of thefts are outlined in other sections of the criminal code. Theft is defined as the unlawful taking of another’s property. As a Philadelphia theft lawyer can explain, the unlawful theft can occur in many forms. It could involve depriving another of his or her property, taking control of the property, or transferring the property from the rightful owner to another individual.

The type of theft offense you are accused of committing depends upon the facts of the allegation. For a general overview of some of the most common theft-related charges in Philadelphia, PA, please refer to this page for reference. To get answers to specific questions about your charge, call a well-qualified Philadelphia theft attorney today.

Philadelphia Theft Lawyers Handle These Cases

Retail Theft

One of the most common theft charges levied in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is referred to as retail theft. Retail theft is defined in Section 3929. An individual may be found guilty of this crime if he or she:

  • Carries away, takes possession of, transfers, or causes merchandise to be carried away;
  • Alters, transfers, or removes the price tag or label from merchandise;
  • Under-rings (or under-charges) the merchandise, with the intention of depriving the business of its full value.
  • Removes, destroys, deactivates, or causes any inventory control tag to become inoperable.

You may assume that a retail theft charge is a simple shoplifting accusation and may only result in a fine. A first offense can result in a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $250, which is in addition to any other penalty imposed by the court. Retail theft, however, can rise to the level of a felony offense, depending on the value of the item or items. Felony convictions can result in incarceration and fines, as well as a criminal record that can jeopardize current or future employment.

Bad Check Writing

Under section 4105, writing a check without sufficient money in the account is illegal in Philadelphia, PA. A person may be found guilty when he or she knowingly provides a payment from an account that is:

  • Counterfeit
  • Insufficient
  • Closed

Philadelphia Theft Lawyers Can Handle Forgery Charges

It is illegal, per Section 4101, to alter or mimic someone’s handwriting without his or her permission and when the individual if found to have had the intent to injure or defraud.

Receiving Stolen Property

A person who intentionally keeps, disposes of, or receives someone else’s property and who either knew or believed the property was stolen is can be found guilty of a crime under Section 3925.

Theft by Deception

Statute 3922 outlines theft by deception. It occurs when a person keeps or obtains someone’s property using a deceptive purpose. Deception in the Commonwealth is defined as:

  • Creating a false impression and either failing to correct that impression or reinforcing that impression.
  • Preventing an individual from acquiring the information needed to make a proper decision.

This does not include any exaggerations that a person typically wouldn’t believe under ordinary circumstances or does not involve financial gain.

Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle

Under statute 3928, it is illegal to use any motor vehicle without the owner’s consent. A motor vehicle can include a motorcycle, SUV, automobile, off-road vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft.

Penalties for Theft in Philadelphia

The seriousness of your theft conviction can depend largely on the amount of money or value of the property you were found guilty of stealing. For example, a third degree misdemeanor conviction will relate to items, or money, valued at $50 or less. You may face up to one year in prison. Other theft convictions and resulting penalties include:

  • Second degree misdemeanor: Fines of $50 to $200 and up to three years in prison;
  • First degree misdemeanor: Fines from $200 to $1,999 and up to five years in prison.
  • Third degree felony: Anything valued at $2,000 or greater can qualify as a third degree felony. The maximum penalty for this conviction is seven years in prison. A theft crime may also become felonious when a firearm is involved or a motor vehicle is taken, commonly called grand theft auto.

A Philadelphia theft lawyer can also help you seek reduced charges if the prosecution is not able to prove their case. Penalties for writing bad checks are penalized according to the amount of money taken. For instance, a third degree misdemeanor would involve a check valued at $200 to $500, and could result in up to a year in jail. Other values and potential penalties include:

  • Bad checks that range from $500 to less than $1,000 can qualify as a second degree misdemeanor and result in three years in prison.
  • Checks valued at $1,000 to $75,000 qualify as a first degree misdemeanor and can result in five years in prison.
  • Any amount more than $75,000 is a felony of the third degree and punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Common Defenses to a Theft Charges in Philadelphia

One common defense is claiming rightful ownership of property. If, for example, you were accused of the unauthorized taking of a vehicle, your attorney may be able to establish evidence that showed that you believed you were the rightful owner or did not realize that the owner did not want you using their vehicle.

Intoxication may be argued as a factor in some theft cases. Intent is the hallmark of a theft case, and if you were intoxicated at the time, you may be able to successfully argue that you had no intention of taking anything. If there is more than one rightful owner of property, and one of them consented to you taking an item or items, your lawyer will work to show proof of this. Consent often negates any type of theft charge.

Contact a Philadelphia Theft Attorney Today

Having your own qualified Philadelphia theft lawyer  conduct an independent investigation in order to gather facts needed for your defense is crucial to the potential success of your case. Time is a major factor in this effort, particularly between the period that you were alleged to have committed the crime and when your trial begins. During that timeframe, your criminal defense theft attorney will work hard to establish the evidence needed to see your charges dismissed or reduced. If conviction is inevitable, your attorney can begin  a plea bargain agreement.

Regardless of the theft charge you may be facing, a dedicated Philadelphia theft attorney will be ready to assist you in any way possible.