Philadelphia Property Crimes Lawyer
If you destroy or trespass on someone else’s property, you will face serious penalties under Pennsylvania law, which includes several statutes meant to protect the rights of property owners. These so-called property crimes cover a wide range of criminal conduct, from illegally entering a place of business, to writing graffiti, to maliciously setting a fires or destroying property.
A conviction for such an offense will involve jail time and/or fines, and a permanent entry on your criminal record that can keep you from getting a job or an education. To avoid these penalties, the best thing you can do is to retain the services of a skilled Philadelphia criminal defense attorney to defend your case. Your lawyer will aggressively advocate on your behalf and ensure that your rights are respected throughout the criminal justice process.
How Can Fienman Defense Help?
At Fienman Defense, we can help you defend against the following types of property crime charges:
- Arson — This crime consists in intentionally or recklessly starting a fire or an explosion. Without aggravating factors, arson is charged as a summary offense—the least serious category of criminal offense. But when the arson damages a home or valuable property such as a car or a boat, the offense is a misdemeanor. The destruction of property by fire for the purpose of collecting insurance money is a felony, as is any arson that puts the lives of others at risk.
- Agricultural vandalism — This is the charge that you will face if you intentionally or recklessly damage property, objects, or products that relate to an agricultural activity. Usually a misdemeanor, this offense becomes a felony if the damages exceed $5,000.
- Criminal trespassing — When you enter a building by sneaking or breaking in, and you know that you are not allowed to enter, you are committing criminal trespass. Depending on the circumstances of the trespass and what you intended to do inside the building, the prosecutor may charge you with a summary offense, a misdemeanor, or a felony.
- Criminal mischief — When you intentionally or recklessly damage someone’s property, cause monetary loss, or spray graffiti, you could get charged with criminal mischief. You may face summary offense, misdemeanor, or felony charges depending on the severity of the damage or whether you put anyone’s life at risk.
- Defiant trespassing — Defiant trespassing occurs when people knowingly remain in a place despite the presence of fences, “no trespassing” signs, or a verbal notice to vacate the premises. Depending on the circumstances, you may be charged with a summary offense, misdemeanor, or even a felony for committing defiant trespassing.
- Institutional vandalism — This involves knowingly desecrating, defacing, or vandalizing the grounds, building, or objects inside of a place of worship, cemetery, school, government building, or community center. When the damages exceed $5,000, the offense is charged as a felony.
Fighting Your Property Crime Charges
At Fienman Defense, our first priority is to ensure that your rights are respected. This approach not only ensures that you are treated with dignity, it may also result in a swift and beneficial resolution of your case. This is because the authorities cannot use evidence against you at trial that was obtained in violation of your rights. Your lawyer will carefully review the prosecutor’s evidence and attempt to argue that it was obtained illegally.
In a property crimes case, examples of the police illegally obtaining evidence might include:
- The police stopped you on the street or pulled your vehicle over without having a reasonable belief that you were committing a crime
- The officer who stopped you performed a search or arrest without probable cause or a warrant
- The officer did not read you your Miranda rights when he or she arrested you—in other words, you were not informed of your right to remain silent or to have a lawyer
- The police continued to question you after you requested a lawyer
When the prosecutor’s evidence gets excluded from the case for such a reason, your lawyer may be in a position to request the dismissal of the charges before the trial starts.
At trial, your lawyer’s job is to show that the prosecutor’s evidence fails to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The reasonable doubt standard is very hard for a prosecutor to meet. If your lawyer can show that there is a reasonable possibility that you did not commit the acts of which you are accused, or that you did not act knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal intent, there is a very good chance that you will obtain a verdict of not guilty.
If you’ve been charged with a property crime, you need to talk to a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney today. The sooner your lawyer begins working on your case, the better your chances of obtaining a positive outcome. Call Fienman Defense now at (215) 839-9529 for a free and confidential consultation regarding your case.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.