It is always a crime to steal another person’s property. However, depending on the circumstances, you could be charged with different crimes that receive different sentences as a result of stealing something that belonged to someone else. It is important to know the difference between these crimes if you are charged so that you understand what punishment you may be facing. Your Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer can help you with this.
The Different Types of Crimes
Robbery (Title 18, Chapter 37 http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/LI/consCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&ttl=18&div=0&chpt=37&sctn=1&subsctn=0) is a crime that occurs under very specific circumstances. It is generally defined as taking the property of another, with intent to permanently deprive them of that property, using force or fear of force. In other words, robbery occurs when someone uses force, such as a weapon or threats of harm, to permanently take the property of someone else.
Burglary (Title 18, Section 3502 http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/LI/consCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&ttl=18&div=0&chpt=35&sctn=2&subsctn=0) also occurs under specific circumstances, traditionally when someone breaks and enters into the dwelling of another person at night, with intent to commit a felony inside. Often, that felony is the felony of robbery or theft if the break-in was part of a plan to steal someone’s property.
Theft is a more general term that encompasses many different kinds of stealing, including robbery, burglary, larceny (stealing personal property), and shoplifting. Theft can occur through deception or extortion, as well as by taking the lost property of someone else if there is no attempt to return it.
Punishments for These Crimes
Pennsylvania law takes theft and other related crimes very seriously.
Burglary is a first degree felony in the state and is punishable by up to twenty years in prison. It may be reduced to a second degree felony (and up to ten years in prison) if the building that was broken into was not intended for overnight stays and was not occupied at the time of the crime.
Robbery can range from a third degree felony to a first degree felony, depending on what happened. Generally robbery is a third degree felony (punishable by up to seven years in prison). If you cause bodily harm to someone during the robbery, the charge goes up to a second degree felony (up to ten years in prison). If the injury constitutes serious bodily injury or the victim is put in fear of serious bodily injury, the charge increases to a first degree felony (up to twenty years in prison). Also, robbing a car while someone was lawfully in possession of the car is also a first degree felony.
For a larceny or shoplifting charge, stealing over $2000 or stealing a plane or vehicle is a second degree felony (ten years in prison), and stealing a firearm is a first degree felony (twenty years in prison).
Call Our Offices Today
A Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney can help you fight these serious charges and make sure that you do not have to face potentially decades in jail. Our experienced attorneys will aggressively protect your rights in the courtroom.