Being charged with a crime in Philadelphia can make even the strongest of people feel as if their world is collapsing. Wimmer Criminal Defense, the preeminent criminal defense law firm in Philadelphia, has put together the below guide to help you become acquainted with some of the terms you may hear as you navigate the…
Robbery and Theft Defense
Many people believe that robbery and theft are simply different terms for the same crime. There are significant legal differences in the way robbery and theft offenses are defined and how they are punished. Pennsylvania prosecutors often push for harsh penalties in these types of cases. If you have been arrested and charged with theft or robbery in Philadelphia, you may be facing years in prison, probation, thousands of dollars in fines, and a felony record.
You urgently need legal help from an aggressive criminal defense attorney who has experience handling theft and robbery cases. For a free legal consultation with an experienced theft and robbery defense attorney, call Lauren Wimmer, an experienced robbery and theft defense attorney at (215) 712-1212 for a free consultation. Lauren Wimmer represent adults and juveniles against the charges of robbery and theft throughout every district and neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Robbery Charges in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, a person commits robbery when, during a theft, he or she does any of the following:
- Causes “serious bodily injury” to another person. “Serious bodily injury” is not just a descriptive term; it has a specific legal meaning of any injury that:
- » Results in “serious, permanent disfigurement;”
- » Results in the long-term “loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ;” or
- » “[C]reates a substantial risk of death.”
- Threatens a person with serious bodily injury.
- Uses force, no matter how slight, to physically take property away from someone.
- “[C]ommits or threatens immediately to commit any felony of the first or second degree.”
- Robbing a bank or financial institution (bank robbery).
Stated simply, robbery involves allegations of taking property away from its lawful owner by force, threats, violence, or intimidation. Robbery is often described as theft, plus one or more of the above elements.
In Pennsylvania, there is also a related robbery offense known as robbery of a motor vehicle (stealing a car), which is charged under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3702.
Theft Charges in Pennsylvania
Theft (larceny) has a much broader definition than robbery. Pennsylvania’s criminal statutes differentiate between more than a dozen theft offenses, though some are charged far more frequently than others. Theft crimes our experienced criminal defense team handle include:
- Receiving Stolen Property – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3925
- Retail Theft (Shoplifting) – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3929
- Theft by Deception – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3922
- Theft by Extortion – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3923
- Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3921
- Theft from a Motor Vehicle – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3934
- Theft of Leased Property – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3932
- Theft of Property Lost, Mislaid, or Delivered by Mistake – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3924
- Theft of Services – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3926
- Theft of Trade Secrets – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3930
- Unauthorized Use of Automobiles and Other Vehicles – 18 Pa.C.S. § 3928
Each of these offenses has its own definition. For example, retail theft, or shoplifting, specifically involves stealing from a store or altering price tags, while theft from a motor vehicle specifically involves stealing property out of another person’s vehicle. The broad element that all theft offenses share is the unlawful taking of information, money, or property, whether tangible or intangible.
Receiving stolen property (RSP) is also commonly charged alongside theft. You can be convicted of RSP for knowingly possessing stolen property, or possessing property you should know is stolen. If police arrest someone for theft and they still have the stolen property, they will likely be charged with RSP on top of the theft charges.
The Penalties for Theft and Robbery Offenses Can be Severe
Sentencing for robbery and theft in Pennsylvania can be very severe, particularly in cases involving robbery of a vehicle. While felonies carry higher maximum fines and longer maximum sentences, misdemeanors are also serious charges, as they can lead to incarceration, fines, and a criminal record – among other unpleasant and damaging consequences.
There are seven classes of crime in Pennsylvania:
- Summary Offenses
- Third Degree Misdemeanors
- Second Degree Misdemeanors
- First Degree Misdemeanors
- Third Degree Felonies
- Second Degree Felonies
- First Degree Felonies
Pennsylvania penalties for theft depend heavily on the value and nature of the stolen property, as explained below.
- Third Degree Felony – With some exceptions, theft is a third degree felony if:
- » The value of the stolen property was at least $2,000 but less than $100,000.
- » The stolen property was an “automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat or other motor-propelled vehicle,” regardless of the car or other vehicle’s financial worth.
- Second Degree Felony – Theft is a second degree felony if:
- » The value of the stolen property was at least $100,000, but less than $500,000.
- » The stolen item was a firearm, regardless of the gun’s actual monetary value.
- First Degree Felony – With some exceptions, theft is a first degree felony if the value of the stolen property was $500,000 or more.
Otherwise, theft is a generally a misdemeanor, as explained below.
- Third Degree Misdemeanor – The value of the stolen property was less than $50.
- Second Degree Misdemeanor – The value of the stolen property was at least $50 but less than $200.
- First Degree Misdemeanor – The value of the stolen property was at least $200 but less than $2,000.
These classifications apply to any theft offense, including RSP. Maximum fines and sentencing for theft in Pennsylvania are as follows:
- Third Degree Misdemeanor
- » Sentence – Up to 1 year
- » Criminal Fine – Up to $2,000
- Second Degree Misdemeanor
- » Sentence – Up to 2 years
- » Criminal Fine – Up to $5,000
- First Degree Misdemeanor
- » Sentence – Up to 5 years
- » Criminal Fine – Up to $10,000
- Third Degree Felony
- » Sentence – Up to 7 years
- » Criminal Fine – Up to $15,000
- Second Degree Felony
- » Sentence – Up to 10 years
- » Criminal Fine – Up to $25,000
- First Degree Felony
- » Sentence – Up to 20 years
- » Criminal Fine – Up to $25,000
In robbery and theft cases, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant’s actions and intentions matched each individual element of the crime’s legal definition. These crimes are serious and it is strongly recommended that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can challenge the prosecution’s case every step of the way. Contact our experienced criminal defense team or call for a free consultation at 215-712-1212 as soon as possible. This allows us to challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you, scrutinize police procedures during your arrest, detention, and question to see whether any of your constitutional rights were violated.
Our Attorneys Fight on Behalf of Clients Charged with Robbery or Theft
No matter how serious the charge or how challenging the circumstances, Lauren Wimmer is ready to put her time and resources toward defending your reputation, innocence, and future. For a free and confidential legal consultation, call today.