Theft / Larceny Law

Theft-related crimes in Pennsylvania include Retail Theft, Theft by Unlawful Taking, Receiving Stolen Property, Access Device Fraud (credit card theft), Burglary and Robbery. The grading of theft crimes range from summary offenses to serious felonies. Grading is based on the following factors: the value of the property involved, the person’s prior history of theft, type of property taken, and the specific facts of each case. If you’re charged with a Theft-related crime, call Stroudsburg and Scranton theft crimes lawyer, Robert J. Munley for a free, no obligation review of your case.

Retail Theft, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 3929, is when a person takes an item from a store with no intention of paying for it. A retail theft can be either a summary, misdemeanor, or a felony, depending on the value of the item taken and the person’s prior history of retail theft convictions.

Summary Retail Theft

1st offense and item’s value is under $150.00.

Misdemeanor Retail Thefts

  • 2nd offense and item’s value is under $150.00.
  • 1st offense retail theft and item’s value is over $150.00.

Felony Retail Thefts

  • Any 3rd or greater offense regardless of item’s value.
  • Any offense where the value is greater than $1000.00.

Theft by Unlawful Taking,18 Pa.C.S.A. 3921, is when a person takes the property of another with no intention of returning it.

Receiving Stolen Property, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 3925, is when a person is in possession of property he knows is stolen. The best defense of Receiving Stolen Property is when a person is unaware that the property was stolen.

Grading of Theft/Receiving Property

  • Misdemeanor 3: value less than $50.00.
  • Misdemeanor 2: value between $50.00 and $200.00.
  • Misdemeanor 1: value between $200.00 and $2,000.00.
  • Felony 3: value between $2000.00 and $100,000.00 or a motor vehicle.
  • Felony 2: value between $100,00.00 and $500,000.00 or
  • a gun.
  • Felony 1: value greater than $500,000.00.

Burglary, 18 Pa.C.S.A 3502., is when a person enters some type of building with the intent to commit a crime (does not have to be a theft crime) once in the building. It is not a Burglary if the building is abandoned, it’s open to the general public, or the person has a right to be in the building. A Burglary can be graded as either a Felony 1 or 2 depending on the facts of the case, including the type of building. Burglary is never graded as a Misdemeanor.

Robbery,18 Pa.C.S.A. 3701, is when a person, during a theft, harms someone, threatens to harm someone, or uses force on another to take their property. Robbery can be graded as a Felony 1, 2, or 3 depending on the facts of the case. (Robbery is never graded as a Misdemeanor.)

Access Device Fraud (Credit Card Fraud), 18 Pa.C.S.A. 4106 is typically when someone uses another’s credit card without the owner of the card’s authorization. Access Device Fraud is a Felony 3 if the value of the purchases is greater than $500, a Misdemeanor 1 if the value is between $50.00 and $500.00, or a Misdemeanor 3 if the value is under $50.00.

The best defense to Access Device Fraud is if the accused can show that the card owner authorized use of the card.


If a person is convicted of a theft-type charge and the property or the money in question has not been returned, restitution will be ordered as part of the sentence. Often, the amount claimed owed by the victim is inaccurate. It’s important to have an attorney experienced in challenging restitution to make sure you’re not paying more than you should. Otherwise, you will be court-ordered to pay the amount requested by the district attorney.

It’s the government’s obligation to prove all of the elements of a theft-related crime beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s not the accuser’s responsibility to prove his innocence. The best defenses are alibi witnesses and eye witnesses who were present when the event took place. Another effective defense is to challenge the case based on insufficient evidence. Many times during negotiations with the prosecutor, the grading and eventual sentence can be reduced, or the crime can be reduced to a lesser charge. Example, a Felony 2 Robbery could possibly be reduced to a Misdemeanor 1 Theft by Unlawful Taking or a Misdemeanor Retail Theft could be reduced to a Summary level Retail Theft. It’s important to choose an attorney who has a deep understanding of Theft-type charges and is experienced negotiating with prosecutors.

ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition)

If you have no criminal record and you’re charged with a Misdemeanor Theft-related crime, you are likely eligible for admission into the ARD Program which includes probation and other requirements. Your charges can be dismissed and your record can be expunged upon completion of the ARD Program.

If you’re charged with a Theft-related crime, call Atty. Munley for a free, no obligation review of your case. Stroudsburg & Scranton theft crimes lawyer, Robert J. Munley has successfully handled Theft-related cases throughout Northeast Pennsylvania for over 23 yrs. Atty. Munley will answer all of your questions and present you with your best options when you go to court.

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