If you’re facing a theft or fraud charge, your rights and freedoms should be protected. In 2019, there were nearly 35,000 arrests for theft in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and each of these individuals could have benefited from the help of an experienced attorney. If you’re accused of committing a crime, you need someone who understands that no case is cut and dry and at the heart of each of them is a human being who needs help. Remember, being arrested and charged for a crime is not the same as being convicted.
At Strand Law Offices, LLC, we can give you the information you need to make an educated decision about your choices, and we’ll stand by you every step of the way. If you’re in the West Chester, Pennsylvania or Lancaster County area, call us today for an appointment.
Under Pennsylvania law, theft covers a range of charges and includes any time you’ve taken, transferred, or exerted control over someone else’s property. This applies to movable property (tangible items like cars, clothing, jewelry, cell phones, and laptop computers) and immovable property (such as real estate or other physical property that can’t be moved). It can also refer to charges other than property crimes like the taking of services. Examples of this would be not paying for medical treatment or using utilities without paying for them. Theft also covers charges like shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, theft by deception or extortion, or looting.
Because there are so many different types of theft, it’s essential that you have an experienced attorney with a broad knowledge of what each charge means and the best way to fight it. Charges can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanor charges range from first degree to third degree, with first degree being the most severe and applying to cases in which the stolen property is valued at over $2,000. Anything over this amount would result in a felony charge.
Penalties come in the form of fines and jail time, which both increase with the severity of the crime, with the harshest penalties coming with felony charges. Additionally, if your charge involves firearms or motor vehicles, or if it’s coupled with other charges such as burglary, vandalism, or trespassing, the penalties often increase. These are all serious offenses and should be handled as such. Even a summary offense for stealing something valued at under $50 can still show up on your criminal record.
Fraud is a broad category that includes criminal charges of intentionally using deceptive practices with the goal of monetary or personal gain. Fraud cases involve knowingly misrepresenting yourself, your services, or your capabilities to another party. Examples include:
Credit Card Fraud
For example, someone may make false entries into an accounting book at their business hoping to pay less in taxes, or they may forge checks and use them to buy goods. Another example could be misrepresenting the value of a piece of art and falsely claiming it’s an antique or collector’s item in order to receive a higher selling price.
Depending on the type of fraud and severity of the crime, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony. Possible penalties include fines and jail time in addition to reimbursing or compensating the defrauded party (though prosecutors only have to prove the intent to defraud, and you don’t actually need to successfully defraud someone in order to to be convicted). Fraud charges can hurt your credit score and all criminal charges could jeopardize your current and future employment opportunities, which is why you need to fight for the best available outcome.
A skilled criminal defense attorney can often help people charged with theft or fraud to reduce their charges or in some cases, have the charges thrown out completely. We’ll always attempt to lower sentencing time by working through the available evidence to question the standing of the charge altogether. We can also attempt to negotiate a plea deal on your behalf if that is the most favorable option.
There are a number of reasons you may find yourself facing one of these charges and even if you’re guilty, the specifics of your situation come into play when discussing your legal options. Perhaps you had a momentary lapse of judgment, acted in the spur of the moment, or felt you had to steal to protect or care for your family. In other instances, you may not have known that what you were doing was illegal. We’ll weigh all of these details with the hope of using them to reduce your possible penalties.
Facing criminal charges such as theft and fraud can feel overwhelming. From our offices in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we handle various criminal defense cases and are committed to open and honest communication with all of our clients. At Strand Law Offices, LLC, we serve clients in counties throughout Pennsylvania. Call us to set up a consultation to discuss your case.