Penalties for theft in Pennsylvania significantly vary, depending on the value of the stolen goods and other factors of the case. For example, offenders who used a weapon will receive a more serious charge than those who did not.
If you face a theft charge in the state, learn about the potential consequences of a conviction.
Definition of theft in Pennsylvania
To convict a person of theft, the prosecutor must prove that the individual obtained, controlled or withheld another person’s property by deception and without permission, and/or that he or she knowingly received and used stole goods. Deception may include:
- Failing to correct a victim’s false impression that influences a financial matter
- Bars someone from receiving information that would influence a financial matter
- Creates or promotes the wrong impression of his or her intentions
Extortion, theft of services and failure to return another person’s lost property also constitute theft in Pennsylvania.
Misdemeanor theft charges
Most acts of theft constitute misdemeanor charges in Pennsylvania. This category includes:
- Theft of items valued up to $50, a third-degree offense with maximum penalties of fines of up to $2,500 and one year in jail
- Theft of items valued from $50 to $200, a second-degree offense with double the maximum penalties of a third-degree offense
- Theft of items valued at more than $200 without felony circumstances, a first-degree offense that carries fines up to $10,000 and up to five years in jail
Felony theft charges
An offender will receive a felony theft charge in Pennsylvania under certain circumstances. You can receive a third-degree felony for stealing any motor vehicle or for earning a living through receiving and selling stolen goods. This carries a fine of up to $15,000 and up to seven years in jail. A second-degree charge includes theft that occurred during a natural disaster or involved anhydrous ammonia or a firearm. These charges can result in fines up to $25,000 and up to ten years in jail.
First-degree felony theft applies only to cases in which the person is in the business of buying and selling stolen firearms. This crime carries fines of up to $25,000 and up to 20 years in prison.