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Robbery, Burglary and Theft


Robbery Charges in Pennsylvania

Robbery is the most serious theft offense. Robbery is a felony violent crime and carries serious state prison  time which can be heightened if a weapon was used. Often Robbery cases contain various different stacked charges and can result in consecutive sentences for all of the charges. Two types of Robbery are recognized in Pennsylvania, including Robbery and  Robbery of a Motor Vehicle which involves force used in the theft of a motor vehicle.

You may be charged with a Robbery if you threatened another person, attempted a forceful theft and failed or injured him or her while you committed a theft. Robbery can also occur when you use force to take something away from someone else such as during a mugging.

Armed robbery involves using a knife, gun, or fake weapon to commit the offense. If you injure the other person, you may also be charged with aggravated assault. If a victim dies due to the attack, you will likely be charged with Felony Murder.

Burglary Charges in Pennsylvania

Burglary is a felony offense that usually carries jail time. A person commits a Burglary when he or she trespasses on the property of another person or business with the intent to commit a crime. Most often, this crime is charged when someone enters a home without permission. 

Even if you did not enter a home with the intent to steal, you can still be charged with Burglary if you intended to commit any other crime. You can be charged with burglary when someone is present and when someone is not present. You can also be charged with Burglary when you enter a home or a business.

Theft in Pennsylvania

You can be charged with theft if you unlawfully take or exercise control over the moveable property of someone else when you have the intent to deprive him or her permanently of that property. Theft offenses differ from robbery and burglary because they don’t involve making threats to others or trespassing on the property of others. Under the theft law, the property includes anything that has value, and the moveable property is the property that can be moved from one location to another.

Theft laws in Pennsylvania are found in Pa. Const. Stat. Ann. 3901-3935.1. Offenses are categorized by the value of the property involved, the circumstances of the offense, and the nature of the items taken. The laws cover retail theft, theft by deception, motor vehicle theft, and offenses involving computers. Even if an offense falls into one category based on the value of the property, a different law may apply based on the items taken and the circumstances of the theft.


Theft by deception involves obtaining or withholding someone else’s property through the use of deception. With this type of theft, the owner gives you control of the property because of your deception.

This might include situations in which you create or reinforce a false impression about the value of the item, your intent regarding the item, or the law. It can also include your failure to correct a false impression that you have created or reinforced.


Theft by extortion involves you taking or withholding someone else’s property by threat. The threat that you make might include a threat to commit a crime, a threat to accuse someone else of a crime, a threat to expose a secret, a threat to take official action, a threat to testify in a legal case, or other types of threats that are meant to blackmail the victim.


Theft of mislaid property involves finding some property that has been lost and keeping it for yourself. This could include finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk and pocketing it instead of taking steps to find its rightful owner. You are required to take steps to find the rightful owner and to wait a specific amount of time before you can lawfully claim the property.

There are many other types of theft, including receiving stolen property, shoplifting, theft of trade secrets, theft of services, and others. If you have been charged with any type of theft, you need to talk to a lawyer at the Shaw Law Group.

Theft Crime FAQ

What amount of theft is a felony in PA?

$2,000.00 or more is felony theft in PA. If the value of the property taken is $2,000.00 or more, the offender faces felony charges. In addition, if the offense involves a motor vehicle, boat, or airplane, the offense is a felony. A third-degree felony in Pennsylvania is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

What is petty theft in Pennsylvania?

Petty theft in Pennsylvania is theft that involves property valued at less than $50. An offender faces a third-degree misdemeanor charge. The maximum penalties are up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. There are circumstances that may enhance the charges like if the offense involves a robbery or organized crime. If property of a larger value is involved, the theft maybe a second or first-degree misdemeanor charge or even a felony offense.

Fighting Robbery, Burglary and Theft charges in Pennsylvania

If you’re facing theft charges in Pennsylvania, there are a number of things to consider. First, remember that you have a right to a trial. The state has the burden of proof. Theft may not always be as clear as it seems since it’s up to the state to prove the defendant’s intent. There may be multiple ways to challenge the evidence against you including examining witness testimony, the state’s valuation of the property, and proof that the defendant either took the property or exercised unlawful control over it. The Shaw Law Group can help you present the information in an effective manner.

In addition, you may be able to take advantage of a deferred sentence or intervention program. For first-time offenders facing misdemeanor theft offenses, the ARD Program may be an advantageous way to resolve the charges with no resulting criminal record. Receiving an offer of ARD is not guaranteed. We can help you investigate the charges against you. If you are a candidate for ARD, we will help you request this kind of resolution. Working with our team helps ensure that you resolve your case in the most advantageous way and do everything you can to fight the theft charges against you.

The Pennsylvania penal code contains some statutory defenses to theft, burglary, and robbery. In addition, other defenses might be available to you. Some of the defenses that you might raise include the following:

  • Self-defense or defense of others such as when you take a gun away from someone to protect yourself and others
  • Preventing a serious crime
  • Necessity
  • Duress
  • Involuntary intoxication
  • Insanity
  • Entrapment

You may also have a defense available to you if you did not intend to permanently deprive someone of their property to a theft charge. For example, if you borrowed something from someone with the intent to return the property, you will have a defense to a theft charge.

The Shaw Law Group obtained a dismissal of a Theft charge after our client was charged with keeping a rental car longer than the original “contract” term.  The Shaw Law Group demonstrated that the client had pre-agreed with the rental car company they could continue to charge his credit card for use of the car if he held it longer than originally was agreed to. When he kept it longer, they charged his card and obtained payment. Since the client intended to pay for the extra days and did so, the Theft was dismissed.

It is also a defense if you are charged with taking the property of another when you believe that the property is yours. This will require you to present evidence showing why you had a good faith belief that you owned the property.

At the Shaw Law Group, we understand the rules, laws, and procedures that are needed to defend our clients who are charged with all types of Theft offenses as well as with Robbery or Burglary offenses. We work to stay current with changes in the law so that we are better able to present strong defenses for our clients.

If you have been charged with Theft, Robbery, or Burglary, you need to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. You should treat all criminal charges seriously because they can result in lengthy jail or prison sentences, stiff fines, restitution, and other penalties.

Even after you have completed your sentence, having a conviction for theft, burglary, or robbery on your criminal record can cause long-lasting collateral consequences. You may have trouble finding employment or housing.

If you are facing Robbery, Burglary of Theft charges, dial us as soon as possible. Call xxxxxxx to schedule a free initial consultation.

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We are known for our straightforward, aggressive approach to defending clients against violent crimes charges and for our ability to effectively challenge the prosecution at every stage of a case. We draw on our expert resources and our legal knowledge to investigate and build the strongest strategic case that we can on your behalf. Our team of attorneys knows the best defenses for each unique case, and we know how to challenge each part of the Commonwealth’s case at the preliminary hearing; through pre-trial motions, and at trial with a judge or a jury. We also have extensive experience in skillfully negotiating for better outcomes for our clients, and we have obtained the best results even in cases in which the Commonwealth has a great deal of evidence. If you or a loved one are under investigation or facing Robbery, Burglary of Theft charges, you need the best defense attorneys in your corner. Call x for a free strategy session with one of our lawyers today. 

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