Philadelphia Theft Lawyer
Your life changes quickly when the police arrest you for theft. Suddenly, your reputation and freedom are on the line. Now is the time to act swiftly and call a Philadelphia theft lawyer. Make sure you hire someone who is knowledgeable and has the skills to back you up.
Attorney Michael Fienman, the founder of Fienman Defense, has years of experience fighting criminal charges in Philadelphia courts. He knows how challenging this process is, especially if this is your first time in trouble with the law. He’s here to fight for the best possible outcome in your case, whether that’s a dismissal, acquittal, or lenient sentence.
Common Philadelphia Theft Charges
Fienman Defense has years of experience successfully defending individuals against theft charges. Reach out today if you’re being investigated or have been charged. We help everyone, whether you’re accused of shoplifting, fraud, or embezzling considerable sums of money.
In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with theft when you unlawfully take, move, or exert control over someone else’s property. This statute covers everything from stealing small amounts of money to embezzlement schemes.
The level of the charge depends on the type and value of the property involved. The more valuable the property, the higher the degree. If you allegedly stole more than $2,000 worth of money or property, it’s a third-degree felony. Property worth less than $2,000 is a misdemeanor offense.
Retail theft, or what most people would call shoplifting, can be a summary offense, misdemeanor, or felony, depending on the value of the merchandise.
If the merchandise is worth more than $150, but it’s your second offense, it’s a misdemeanor. This offense is considered a felony if the merchandise was:
- Worth more than $2,000
- A firearm
- A vehicle
This can also be a felony if it is your third offense.
Theft From a Vehicle
Removing someone else’s property from a vehicle without permission is theft. Depending on the value of the property, you face first, second, or third-degree misdemeanor. However, if this is your third or subsequent offense within five years, you’ll face a felony.
Theft by Deception
You can be charged with a theft offense if you intentionally lied about something important to access or take control of another person’s property. Theft by deception is charged the same way as other forms of theft. The value of the property determines whether you face a misdemeanor or felony.
Writing checks that you know a bank or other financial institution won’t honor is a crime. If the check was for less than $200, this is a summary offense. But higher amounts lead to misdemeanor and felony charges. A check for $75,000 or more is a felony.
You face a misdemeanor or felony offense if you try to use a falsified document for your own gain.
Three types of forgery are:
- Signing someone else’s signature
- Creating false documents
- Passing off a fake document as authentic
Receiving Stolen Property
Knowingly receiving stolen property is just as bad as stealing it yourself. A court could convict you of a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the property.
Potential Penalties for Theft
The level of the offense determines the maximum sentence:
- Summary offense: Up to 90 days in jail and up to $300 in fines
- Third-degree misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines
- Second-degree misdemeanor: Up to two years in prison and a fine up to $5,000
- First-degree misdemeanor: Up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
- Third-degree felony: Up to seven years in prison and a fine up to $15,000
- Second-degree felony: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000
- First-degree felony: Up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000
Whether you receive the maximum or a lenient sentence depends on a few factors. The Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines are a matrix, which uses the offense gravity score and your prior record score to suggest a sentence. If you have a criminal history, you’ll likely face a harsher penalty.
Additional Consequences of a Theft Conviction
Living with a theft conviction on your record isn’t easy. You’ll have to note your conviction on job and housing applications, and it’ll come up on background checks.
You can lose out on jobs and apartments because of it. There’s also a stigma that comes with having a criminal record, which can make it hard to move forward in school, work, or your community.
We want to help you avoid these consequences by beating the theft charges. Call us right away so we can get started on your defense.
Defending Against Theft Charges in Philadelphia
Every theft case is unique, which is why we thoroughly investigate and gather evidence on your behalf. We get to know every facet of your matter, inside and out, so we can determine the right defense strategy. What may work on one case may not be suitable for yours. Just know that there are options.
Possible theft defenses include:
- Suppressing unlawfully obtained evidence
- Challenging the prosecution’s witnesses’ reliability, reputation, or memory
- Establish reasonable doubt
- Demonstrate the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence
- Provide your alibi
Other Strategy Options
We may implement other strategies if we believe we won’t win a dismissal or acquittal. If you choose to go to trial, we can strive to mitigate the consequences of a conviction. We can push facts that give the judge a reason to set out a lenient sentence.
Another option is to negotiate a plea agreement. You may receive a lesser charger or light sentence if you agree to plead guilty.
Options for First-Time Defendants
If this theft charge is your first time in trouble with the law, then Fienman Defense will explain your options. You may be eligible for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or an Accelerated Misdemeanor Program.
AMP I and AMP II may be available for a non-violent misdemeanor. ARD is for first-time offenders facing relatively minor offenses but who need longer periods of supervision than AMP requires.
Under any of these programs, if you complete the supervision and other requirements, the court dismisses the original charges. You won’t have a conviction on your record.
Questions? Contact a Philadelphia Theft Lawyer Today.
You shouldn’t face theft charges alone. Reach out to Fienman Defense to talk about your case during a free, confidential consultation. Mr. Fienman has a track record of winning the best possible outcomes for his clients. He’ll look into your case, explain your options, and move forward with an effective strategy.