Grading of Theft Offenses

In Pennsylvania, the grading and severity of theft offenses is primarily impacted by the value of the item and the number of prior theft offenses in a person's past. Pennsylvania law distinguishes taking property generally and stealing from a store. Stealing from a store is considered retail theft, in violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 3929, and you can read more about Pennsylvania retail theft charges by clicking here.

Generally speaking, the higher the value of the item stolen, the more severe the grading of the charge, and the higher the fines and period of incarceration permitted by law. Some items, such as guns and vehicles, automatically result in much more substantial penalties and are discussed more fully below.

Pennsylvania theft offenses are graded as follows:

  • If the value of the property is $500,000 or more, the charge is a first-degree felony and punishable by up to 20 years' incarceration and a $25,000 fine.
  • If the value of the property is at least $100,000 but less than $500,000, the charge is a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years' incarceration and a $25,000 fine.
  • If the value of the property exceeds $2,000 but less than $100,000, then the theft charge is graded as a felony of the third degree. A third-degree felony is punishable by a maximum sentence of seven years' incarceration and a $15,000 fine.
  • If the value of the property was at least $200 but equal to or less than $2,000, then the theft charge is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree. A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years' incarceration and a $10,000 fine.
  • If the value of the property was at least $50 but less than $200, then the theft charge is a second-degree misdemeanor. A second-degree misdemeanor has a maximum sentence of two years' incarceration and a $5,000 fine.
  • If the value of the property was less than $50, then the theft charge is a third-degree misdemeanor. A third-degree misdemeanor has a maximum sentence of one year incarceration and a $2,500 fine.

Increased Penalties for Firearms and Motor-Propelled Vehicles

Pennsylvania theft offenses that involve a firearm are harshly punished. If a person steals a firearm or receives a stolen firearm, they can be charged with a felony of the second degree. A second-degree felony carries a maximum sentence of 10 years' incarceration and a $25,000 fine. If a person is in the business of buying or selling property and they possess a stolen firearm, then the person is charged with a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony has a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

If the property that was stolen was an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat, or other motor-propelled vehicle, then the theft is graded as a felony of the third degree. A third-degree felony has a maximum sentence of seven years' incarceration and a $15,000 fine.

Thefts Committed During Disasters

Pennsylvania law substantially increases the sentences for theft offenses committed during times of disaster, be it a manmade, natural, or war-caused disaster. If a person commits a theft by unlawful taking, in violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 3921, receiving stolen property, in violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 3925, unauthorized use of automobiles or other vehicles, in violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 3928, or retail theft, in violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 3929, the offense is graded a felony of the second degree. In Pennsylvania, a second-degree felony has a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Free Initial Consultation

If you or a loved one has been charged with retail theft or another theft offense in State College, please call an experienced Penn State criminal defense lawyer today at 814-954-1094, or contact us by email for a free initial consultation.