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The type of theft offense a person is charged with and the severity of the penalties associated with the crime depends upon the value of the goods or services taken, and whether or not the defendant has any prior theft convictions. A Pennsylvania theft attorney can help determine the best defense strategy that fits the specifics of their client’s charge, whether it be a felony or misdemeanor, and the circumstances surrounding it. 




In Pennsylvania, theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Shoplifting is a type of theft charge.  While a misdemeanor charge is less serious than a felony, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are three possible charges misdemeanor theft charges and each charge carries the possibility of jail time.

  • Misdemeanor 3 Theft – when the value of the stolen goods is less than $50. A conviction of Misdemeanor 3 Shoplifting carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail.

  • Misdemeanor 2 Theft – when the value of the stolen goods is over $50. A conviction of Misdemeanor 2 Shoplifting can result in up to three years in jail.

  • Misdemeanor 1 Theft – when the value of the stolen goods is more than $200. A conviction of Misdemeanor Shoplifting 1 carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.


Theft, including shoplifting, is automatically charged as a felony if the items stolen are valued at more than $2,000. You could face up to seven years in jail if convicted of felony shoplifting in Pennsylvania. The charge will also be a felony if a firearm is used during the commission of the crime, regardless of the value of the items stolen. Both a felony and misdemeanor charge will become part of your record. However, a felony is the more serious of the two charges and frequently requires jail time. It can also prevent you from working in some fields. A misdemeanor is more likely to result in alternative sentencing, such as a fine or community service.

The final decision of whether you receive jail time for your theft charge depends on several factors. If you have a previous record of theft or shoplifting, you are more likely to receive jail time. On the other hand, if this is your first conviction, you may be fortunate enough to receive probation or community service.


Typically, when charged with theft by unlawful taking, you will likewise be charged with receiving stolen property. If you keep property that you know is stolen, you are considered guilty of receiving stolen property according to Pennsylvania law. The District Attorney will try to get you to plead guilty to both of these charges.


Many workers are accused of criminal actions at work by employers, clients, or even co-workers.  Charges often involve the theft of company goods, money, or time, falsifying time cards, expense reports, embezzlement, and shortages in a cash register.  Your job and your reputation are on the line.  Theft is the type of conviction that is likely to disqualify you from any future employment.  The financial security of you and your family is on the line.       

A person accused of theft should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as they have any indication that they might be charged. The earlier the attorney can get started, the better opportunity they will have to prepare a successful defense.

If you are facing a theft charge, it is crucial you work with an experienced Pennsylvania theft attorney who can pursue reduced charges on your behalf and investigate if any theft defenses may apply in your case.

Whether you have a history of theft convictions or have never before been charged with a crime, an attorney will look out for your best interest throughout the judicial process.

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