How is Theft Defined in Pennsylvania?
While the common law offense is typically termed larceny, the Pennsylvania Crime Code define this crime as theft. Theft in Pennsylvania can include:
- Theft by deception – Theft by deception occurs when a person misleads or tricks another to withhold the deceived individual’s lawfully held property.
- Theft of services – Theft of services occurs when a person obtains a service of value – as opposed to goods – without lawfully compensating the provider of the service or services.
- Theft by extortion – If a person intentionally obtains the property of another by committing another criminal offense, accusing another of committing a criminal offense, attempt to embarrass a person by revealing confidential information, or through other means theft by extortion may be charged.
Defenses to theft charges include lack of intent, duress, consent, entrapment, and duress.
Penalties for Theft in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania handles crime classification with different language, though the idea of classification based on severity is the same. These terms are analogous to the more commonly-known felony and misdemeanor classifications, which Pennsylvania applies. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, a theft can be classified as either DP/petty/misdemeanor, or indictable/felony.
It’s important to note that not only is committing theft considered a theft crime, but also receiving stolen goods. Theft can apply to property or services (e.g. stealing cable) in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, crimes of theft are either misdemeanor offenses, or felony offenses. Again, the predominant factor in classification is value of the property stolen, but additional factors can come into play.
- Value: $50-$199
- Classification: 2nd Degree Misdemeanor
- Maximum Sentence: Two years
- Maximum Fine: $5,000
- Value: $200-$2,000
- Classification: 1st Degree Misdemeanor
- Maximum Sentence: Five years
- Maximum Fine: $10,000
- Value: $2,001 and higher
- Classification: 3rd Degree Felony
- Maximum Sentence: Seven years
- Maximum Fine: $15,000
Theft as a 2nd Degree or 1st Degree Felony is determined not by financial value, but by outside factors. For example, theft becomes a 2nd Degree Felony when:
- The theft is committed during a disaster (war, or a natural disaster).
- The property is a gun.
For a 2nd Degree Felony:
- Maximum Sentence: 10 years
- Maximum Fine: $25,000
Theft Becomes a 1st Degree Felony when:
- An individual receives a stolen gun, and is in the business of buying and selling stolen property (e.g. a black market arms dealer).
For a 1st Degree Felony:
- Maximum Sentence: 20 years
- Maximum Fine: $25,000