There are multiple types of property crimes in Pennsylvania that the state will prosecute as theft offenses. Retail theft (also known as shoplifting) is one of the most common, but burglary and robbery are also types of theft crimes wherein the charges that someone faces will depend on the value of the resources involved.
While other factors, including someone’s personal history and the possible use of a weapon, can aggravate theft charges, the most important factor is usually the value of the assets involved in the theft. Those who are accused of a minor or petty theft offense will typically face misdemeanor charges, but more serious property crimes generally lead to felony charges.
When will Pennsylvania pursue a felony charge over theft or attempted theft?
When the property is worth $2,000 or more
It will be the fair market value of the assets involved that determines the charges in many cases. The point at which the theft of someone else’s resources becomes a felony is when the total value adds up to $2,000. Anyone accused of stealing property worth more than $2,000 but less than $100,000 will face a third-degree felony offense that could lead to $15,000 in fines and up to seven years in state custody. Theft of property worth less than $2,000 but at least $200 will be a first-degree misdemeanor that could lead to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Property worth at least $50 but less than $200 can lead to second-degree misdemeanor charges that lead to a maximum of two years imprisonment and $5,000 in fines. Theft of resources worth less than $50 can lead to up to a year in state custody and $2,500 in fines.
When there are special circumstances
In situations involving the theft of a firearm, the person accused will likely face a second-degree felony. Those who steal any motor-propelled vehicle, ranging from a boat or motorcycle to an airplane could face third-degree felony charges. The state also brings felony theft charges for Those who commit property crimes during times of war or natural disasters.
Understanding how the state determines the charges filed in a theft case can benefit people accused of stealing property in Pennsylvania. With that said, seeking legal guidance is generally a good idea no matter what kind of property charges someone is facing.