People often focus on the letter of the law. However, numbers have just as much importance, particularly when it comes to criminal offenses like theft.
If you are arrested for theft, you should know which numbers might work against you and which could work in your favor.
The value of the property
In cases of theft, the value of the property a person allegedly takes will determine the level of the offense and the penalties someone faces. More specifically, state laws note that retail theft charges will be:
- A summary offense if property valued at $150 or less,
- A first-degree misdemeanor for property valued at more than $150
- A third-degree felony for property valued at at least $1,000
Parties must refer to the advertised or stated price of the merchandise to determine the full market value of property in retail theft. Thus, every cent matters if the value is around that $150 or $1,000 mark.
That said, other numbers will also affect grading.
The number of previous theft offenses
Having a history of theft offenses can drastically affect the potential charges you face if police arrest you. In fact, we have third-strike laws in Pennsylvania, meaning a third theft offense will result in third-degree felony charges, regardless of the property’s value.
This is the very law that nearly put a man in danger of a seven-year prison sentence for a theft amounting to $0.43. Reports note that he misinterpreted a promotional offer on soda at a convenience store and shorted the store less than 50 cents. Police arrested him, and he faced felony charges because it was his third theft offense.
Thankfully, the felony charge was eventually dismissed.
This case serves as a reminder of how crucial it is to aggressively defend against every allegation of theft, even if you think it was minor or will not have a dramatic impact on your future.
Multiple defenses to theft
People have a number of options when it comes to defending themselves against theft charges. Depending on the situation and the details of a case, defenses might include:
- Challenging witness statements
- Proving there was no criminal intent
- Showing the accused made a mistake of fact
Depending on the circumstances of your case, one of these defenses can help you protect your future and minimize the fallout of a theft allegation. You can discuss your options with The Quinn Law Firm by calling 814-833-2222.