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What are the theft laws in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the term "theft" is used instead of larceny to describe the crime of taking someone else's property. There are various types of theft listed in the state statutes, including:

-- Theft by extortion.

-- Theft by deception.

-- Theft of lost property.

-- Theft of services.

People can be convicted of theft if they receive stolen property that they know was stolen and don't intend to give it back to its owner.

For a theft conviction, the prosecution has to prove that the defendant took, exercised control over or transferred someone else's property and intended to keep the owner from having or using it.

There are some defenses to theft charges. These include:

-- An intent to find the property's rightful owner and give the property back to him or her.

-- No intent to deprive the person who owns the property.

-- Property was not stolen. In other words, the owner could have lost it.

-- Entrapment.

-- Age.

-- Duress.

-- Consent.

The penalties for theft can vary significantly depending on how much the stolen property is worth. For property worth less than $50, it's a summary offense. This can mean a jail sentence of up to 90 days and might include a fine of $25 to $1,500.

If the property is a vehicle, airplane or vessel and worth over $2,000, the charge is a second-degree felony. The theft of a firearm is a first-degree felony. A third-degree misdemeanor is the charge for property stolen that was worth $50 to under $200.

The value of the property and the case's particular circumstances will affect the charge. Penalties can be between 90 days in jail and seven years in prison.

Having a theft conviction on your record can significantly impact your ability to get certain jobs, rent an apartment or house or even go to college. It's important to fight theft charges with a strong defense. Your attorney can provide more information about how to build such a case.

Source: FindLaw, "Pennsylvania Theft / Larceny Law," accessed March 04, 2016

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