In criminal law, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's freely-given consent. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting, fraud, and sometimes criminal conversion. In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonymous with larceny; in others, theft has replaced larceny.
In Pennsylvania, theft takes a variety of forms, including:
- Theft by unlawful taking or disposition
- Theft by deception
- Theft by extortion
- Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake
- Receiving stolen property
- Theft of services
- Theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received
- Unauthorized use of automobiles and other vehicles
- Retail theft
- Library theft
- Theft of trade secrets
- Theft of unpublished dramas and musical compositions
- Theft of leased property
- Unlawful use of a computer
- Theft from an automobile
- Identity theft, etc.
The grading of a theft crime can be as low as a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree, as high as a felony of the 2nd degree, or all grades in-between. This means that punishment for conviction of a theft crime can range anywhere from a fine to probation, or even jail time as long as 10 years. Because the elements of proof are often the same for misdemeanor and felony theft, grading of a theft crime is primarily determined by the value of the property stolen. However, the circumstances of the offense or the nature of property involved (apart from value) can be relevant or even determinative in certain situations. Accordingly, the value of the item stolen, along with when and how it was stolen, is very relevant in reviewing alleged theft charges.
The basic elements of every theft crime are that an actor must have committed the theft and had the intent to do so. Before one can be convicted of theft, the act of stealing and the intent to steal must be proven by the State beyond a reasonable doubt.
Because the skilled attorneys at Kope and Associates have a thorough understanding of theft crimes in Pennsylvania, they can provide competent and aggressive criminal defense to those charged with any type of theft, ranging from misdemeanor theft to felony theft. These knowledgeable attorneys will review the type of theft charged, the value of the property alleged to be stolen, and all possible defenses to the act itself, as well as the alleged intent behind the act. These experienced attorneys have represented many alleged first-time and repeat offenders throughout Pennsylvania.
An early defense can make a big difference in theft charge(s) filed against you; in some cases, a skillful criminal defense attorney can negotiate the theft charge(s) to a lower grade as early as the Preliminary Hearing.
Therefore, if you or someone you know has been charged with a theft crime in Harrisburg, York, or surrounding areas of Pennsylvania, please contact Kope and Associates as soon as possible for a free consultation. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.