Car Thefts are at a 20 year high in Philadelphia! Over 21,000 vehicles have been stolen in the City in 2023…and there are still over 2 weeks left!
How serious is a theft, fraud or forgery charge in Pennsylvania. What makes robbery different?
Despite the Holidays, Philadelphia’s problems continue to get worse! In addition to its failing schools, dangerous streets and overall lower quality of life, car thefts are at 20 year high. Over 20,000 cars have been stolen to date in 2023! Philadelphia already has some of the nation’s highest insurance rates, the theft surge is likely to make those rates even higher!
Our criminal defense law firm represents persons charged with crimes and offenses in Pennsylvania. A very common class of offenses is theft, fraud and forgery. These are criminal charges that often involve young people or young adults who often take items because of peer pressure or other outside factors. It is important to understand that a theft charge in Pennsylvania can range from a summary offense to a much more common misdemeanor offense and even a felony charge in some cases!
How serious is retail theft in Pennsylvania? (See Title 18, Section 3929)
Retail theft is a summary crime when the merchandise in question is less than $150. If the value of the merchandise is less than $150, it is a misdemeanor of the second degree. Finally, if the item’s value is $150 or more, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
In most situations, a person who is convicted of retail theft will not serve a substantial period of time in jail or State prison. There are exceptions, however, based on a person’s prior criminal history and the amount in question (See Title 18, Section 3929).
Retail theft is graded as a felony offense if the value is over $1,000 in value. Theft is also graded as a felony where it is the result of a third or subsequent retail theft offense. This grading would classify the defendant as a repeat offender who is subject to harsher criminal penalties which could include a state prison sentence.
Theft – Unlawful Taking – Movable Property
A theft of movable property (property of another) is graded as a felony of the second degree if it occurs during a natural disaster or some other public emergency. In addition, theft is always graded as a felony of the second degree if the item in question is a firearm. Theft is a felony of the third degree in Pennsylvania if the amount exceeds $2,000 or the property stolen is an automobile or some other vehicle (See Title 18, Section 3921 – theft).
What are the other common theft crimes Pennsylvania?
Theft by Deception (See Title 18, Section 3922) – Grading based on value
Theft of Services (See Title 18, Section 3926) Grading based on value
Receiving Stolen Property (See Title 18, Section 3923) Grading based on value unless it’s a gun or firearm
Access Device Fraud (See Title 18, Section 4106)
Access to device fraud is a type of theft which involved the use of electronic devices to obtain property or services issued to another person. In these situations, the value is $500 or more, it constitutes a felony of the third degree if the value was $50, but less than $500, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the value is less than $50, it is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
What is Forgery (See Title 18, Section 4101)
A common charge that is associated with fraud is forgery (See Title 18, Section 4101). Fraud occurs when a person with the intent to defraud or injure someone else alters any writing without that person’s authority. Forgery also occurs when a person makes, completes, executes, or issues or transfers any writing to purport to be the act of another person. Forgery is a felony of the second degree if it involves the use or illegal transfer money, security or other instruments issued by the government.
What is the difference between robbery and theft?
Robbery is a theft committed by force; it is considered a violent felony crime (Title 18, Section 3701.) The degree of force is irrelevant when it comes to being accused of robbery, but it will determine the severity of the charge. First degree felony robbery is committed if the perpetrator inflicts or intentionally puts the victim in fear of serious bodily injury during the course of an unlawful “taking” (theft).
Second degree felony robbery is similar to first degree, but the “serious” term is removed from the definition. Third degree felony robbery is a theft committed with the slightest amount of force. Unlike a theft charge (taking without force), the value of the item taken is irrelevant. It is the force element that makes a theft a robbery.
Robbery and Theft merge
Theft and robbery are separate offenses, but they are normally charged together and do merge for the purpose of sentencing following a conviction. Theft, similar to robbery, varies in degrees. A theft of an item or service over $2,000 is a felony of the third degree. All other thefts are misdemeanors (less than $50—misdemeanor of the third degree, $50 to $200—misdemeanor of the second degree, over $200 to $2,000—misdemeanor of the first degree).
If you are charged with a theft, fraud, or robbery charge in Pennsylvania contact our criminal defense law firm today!
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