An individual’s property is protected under Pennsylvania law (Title 18, Chapter 33 http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/LI/consCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&ttl=18&div=0&chpt=33) from interference by other people. If you enter someone else’s property and interfere with their ownership and use of it, or damage it in any way, then you will be arrested for and charged with a property crime.
Although these crimes may seem minor, they can carry heavy penalties under Pennsylvania criminal law. If you have been charged with a property crime, call one of our experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney right away.
The law defines arson as when someone intentionally starts a fire or an explosion on someone’s property, either with the purpose of destroying the building or with the purpose of harming someone.
Pennsylvania punishes arson differently depending on the circumstances. Arson intended to cause bodily injury to someone is graded as second degree murder if someone dies as a result, meaning mandatory life in prison. If there was no death but the intent was still to cause bodily harm, it is a first degree felony punishable by up to twenty years in prison. Arson of a historic site, or an arson intended to endanger property, is a second degree felony punishable by up to ten years in prison. And if arson is committed because of reckless behavior, it is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Proving lack of intent is one of the strongest defenses to arson charges.
Institutional vandalism occurs when someone desecrates, vandalizes, or defaces a building like a church, synagogue, mosque, cemetery, educational building, or municipal building. It is punishable as a felony in the third degree, meaning up to seven years in jail.
Agricultural vandalism is when someone defaces, marks, or damages property that is used in farming and agriculture. It is generally graded as a misdemeanor of the third degree, punishable by up to a year in jail.
However, if the defendant intentionally caused a financial loss of over $5000, it is a felony of the third degree. If the defendant intentionally caused a financial loss of over $1000, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to five years in jail.
Under Pennsylvania law, criminal trespassing is defined as when someone enters or breaks into property that they know they are not allowed to be on or in. If the property is broken into, it is a second degree felony punishable by up to ten years in prison. If the defendant sneaks onto the property, it is a third degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Years of jail time is a steep penalty for anyone to face for a single property offense. Call an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer to protect and defend your rights and to help you with your case. if you were the victim of a crime and need to make a claim against someone who has wronged you, talk to an accident lawyer in philly who will help you persue your case