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Larceny and Theft Lawyer in Pennsylvania

Larceny and Theft Charges Can Change Your Life

Pennsylvania criminal law describes larceny and theft as taking someone’s property with no intention of giving it back. Theft is considered larceny if no physical force or weapons are used. The two main types of larceny include grand larceny and petty larceny. The value of the stolen property determines if the larceny is considered grand or petty. This is something your larceny and theft lawyer can help you determine.

Defending Larceny and Theft Charges in Pennsylvania

The number of instances of larceny can affect the number and severity of charges, along with the possible penalties. If you are facing a larceny charge, count on the criminal defense lawyers at Kitay Law Offices. We’ll work hard to persuade the court to dismiss the charges against you.  We’ll also work hard to minimize the penalties associated with a theft.

The various penalties for theft can change depending on the value and types of items stolen, a well as other details relating to the case.

Penalties for Larceny and Theft Charges Include:

  • Theft of an item valued at less than $50 is a “summary offense.” This is less serious than either a felony or misdemeanor. A summary offense may have a sentence of up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $25 to $1,500.
  • For other types of theft, penalties can range from 90 days to seven years in prison.

Movable and Immovable Property

Movable property is any property which someone moves or relocates. Stealing merchandise is one of the most common types of larceny. For example, stealing a hammer from a hardware store is called retail theft of movable property, better known as shoplifting.

Many people think that shoplifting isn’t a big deal and just a minor offense. This is not true. The higher the value the item, the bigger the penalty can be. Therefore, anyone facing larceny charges for shoplifting needs a skilled lawyer to represent them with a strong defense. A shoplifting charge can change your life forever.

Immovable property is something that can’t be moved like your house and the land surrounding the house. Likewise, an addition to a property which is necessary, like an air conditioning unit, is also immovable property.


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Movable and immovable property larceny and theft includes:

  • Theft by Deception: This is when someone intentionally holds back information or gives a false impression about an intention, law, or value of a transaction. In other words when one person deceives or tricks another person.
  • Theft of property mislaid, delivered, or lost by mistake: When a person receives property that is meant for someone else, knows that it belongs to someone else and keeps it, they can be charged with theft. You cannot deliberately keep any property from its rightful owner.

Penalties and Punishment for Larceny & Theft Under Pennsylvania Law

  • Third-degree misdemeanor: If property is not taken by force or under threat and its value does not exceed $50, then the offense is a third-degree misdemeanor.
  • Second-degree misdemeanor: If the property exceeds $50, but is less than $200, then the offense will constitute a second-degree misdemeanor.
  • Second-degree felony: If the property or amount stolen exceeds $2,000 or is a vehicle or vessel of any kind, then it is a second-degree felony.

The penalties for these larceny and theft crimes can range between 90 days in jail to 7 years in prison depending on the magnitude of the larceny and theft involved. The specific charge someone will face for a theft offense depends on a number of factors, including:

  • the type and value of the property stolen
  • the person’s criminal history
  • if violence or threats of violence occurred

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The Cost of a Theft Crime Conviction

If you receive a theft crime conviction, there will be consequences once you get out of prison. The more serious the theft, the more challenges you will face. Your larceny and theft lawyer will help you evaluate your situation and determine best options.

For example, there may be difficulties returning to school or getting and keeping a job. It may be difficult to get approved for a loan, renting a house or apartment. You could lose the right to vote for a period of time and never be able to own a gun. Moreover, keeping custody of or visitation with your children can become a serious problem.

In addition, if you are undocumented, you could be deported. You can lose a visa or have your renewal application denied. You may also lose the opportunity to become a permanent resident or U.S. citizen. This is why we always recommend you speak with a larceny and theft lawyer right away.

The Impact on the Rest of Your Life and Your Family

A crime conviction on your record will come up when filling out job applications or when getting a background check. A potential employer, colleges admissions office, loan officer, or landlord will see that you have a property crime conviction and they may not trust you.

A crime conviction can also have an impact on your family. If you share custody of your children, the other parent could use the conviction as a reason to go back to court to gain more custody or deny you visitation.

You could lose out on all of this and much more, which is why you should speak with a larceny and theft lawyer to review the facts of your case.

Call Kitay Law Offices for Help

If you are dealing with a summary offense or a felony for theft, you need to defend yourself. The best way to mount a defense in your favor is to work with a criminal defense lawyer at Kitay Law Offices. We’ll look at the facts of your case and carefully review your situation. We will explain how to defend your case and obtain the best possible outcome. Contact us at 888-KITAYLAW for a consultation today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the potential punishments and penalties for larceny and theft crimes in PA?

The punishments and penalties depend on the degree of the misdemeanor or felony larceny offense.

For example:

  • Third, second, and first-degree misdemeanors can include 1, 2, or 5 years in jail and fines up to $2,000, $5,000, and $10,000.
  • If you are charged with a third or second-degree felony, the sentence is a maximum of 7 or 10 years in prison and up to $15,000 or $25,000 in fines.
  • A first-degree felony charge can get up to 20 years in prison and fines reaching $25,000.

However, if you have one or more theft offenses on your criminal record, the charge may be raised.  This is largely determined by the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines.

What are some common theft crimes in Pennsylvania?

Retail Theft or Shoplifting

Retail theft charges can be made if you, for example:

  • take items out of a store without paying for the item
  • switch or change an item’s price tags
  • break or remove any security tags

A summary offense with no more than a $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail will stand if the stolen merchandise is worth less than $150 and it’s a first-time offense. For stealing merchandise worth $150 to $999, expect to receive a first-degree misdemeanor with fines up to $10,000 and up to 5 years in jail. Stealing merchandise worth more than $1,000 is a third-degree felony with fines up to $15,000 and up to 7 years in prison.


Forgery charges can be made if, for example:

  • there is an intent, with or without your knowledge to injure or defraud someone
  • any writing is altered without permission
  • you make, complete, authenticate, or transfer any writing which claims to be the act of another person
  • use a writing you know to be forged

Under the law, a “writing” includes the following: electronic signatures, money, stamps, credit cards, trademarks and other symbols of value and identification.

Forgery is a first-degree misdemeanor with fines up to $10,000 and up to 5 years in jail. However, if the writing is a will, contract, deed, or other commercial instrument, then it is a third-degree felony with fines of up to $15,000 and up to 7 years in prison. If the writing is money, stamps, investments, or a government instrument it is a second-degree felony with fines of up to $25,000 and up to 10 years in prison. Your larceny and theft lawyer can help you determine the best way forward in such circumstances.

Passing Bad Checks

It is illegal to intentionally write checks knowing they will not be honored by the bank. The charge for passing back checks can be a summary offense, misdemeanor, or felony based on the amount of the check. A check for less than $200 is a summary offense with no more than a $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail. A check for more than $75,000 leads to a third-degree felony with fines of up to $15,000 and up to 7 years in prison.

Theft by Unlawful Taking

If a person has the intent to rob the rightful owner of their property to benefit themselves, the charge is theft by unlawful taking.  Property is considered movable or immovable. Movable property includes things like jewelry and electronics. Immovable property includes real estate and investments. In most cases, if the property has a value of more than $2,000, the charge is a third-degree felony with up to 7 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.

Theft by Deception

Intentionally obtaining or keeping property from the rightful owner through deception will bring a charge of theft by deception. Examples of deception in this case may include: creating and maintaining a false impression; preventing the property owner from finding out important information; or failing to correct a false impression.

Examples of theft by deception may include:

  • The Dine and Dash: Food isn’t free at a restaurant, as the menu clearly details the price of each item. Yet, once the meal is over and the check arrives, the diner with a full belly sneaks out without making payment.
  • Pawning Off Property: A person steals a laptop from someone’s office and attempts to sell it at a pawn shop, as if the laptop belonged to that person.
  • Phishing Scams: Phishing scams usually lead to identity theft cases. Phishing is where potential criminals contact unsuspecting people through email, text, or phone calls posing as a legitimate company or organization. The phishers con the victims into giving their confidential information like a Social Security number, bank account, or credit card information.

Intellectual Property Theft

There are many types of intellectual property theft under state and federal law. Intellectual property theft means stealing any form of intellectual property, including for example:

  • music
  • artwork
  • inventions
  • artwork
  • literary works
  • designs and symbols that are protected by patents, trademarks, and copyrights

Most intellectual property theft penalties begin with a fine of $250,000 and/or 3 years in prison. However, penalties can be as high as a $5 million fine and/or 20 years in prison. If this is your situation, we recommend that you contact a larceny and theft lawyer for more information.

What is the grading for theft based on property value?

  • In most cases, if the property’s value is more than $2000, the charge is a third-degree felony with up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • For property valued at is $2,000 to $200, the charge is a first-degree misdemeanor with up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • If the property value is $200 to $50, the charge is a second-degree misdemeanor with up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • With property value is less than $50 the charge is a third-degree misdemeanor with up to 1 year in prison and a fine up to $2,500.

You can find more information about any of these theft charges on the Pennsylvania General Assembly website.

Can I get into trouble if I receive stolen property, but didn’t steal it myself?

Yes, a person can also be charged with a crime if they receive stolen property that they know is stolen. The person must have no intention of returning to the rightful owner.

How can a lawyer defend me if I am dealing with a larceny or theft charge?

A lot depends on the facts of your case. However, a larceny and theft lawyer may be able to prove the following:

  • You are the victim of mistaken identity
  • You had permission from the property owner to keep the property
  • The owner lost or left the property and you found it
  • You had no reason to steal the property
  • You were under pressure to steal

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