Is There a Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary in Pennsylvania?

Many Pennsylvanians confuse theft, robbery, and burglary. If you are unclear about the differences between these three crimes, you need to learn what they are. Understanding these offenses can help you to avoid being charged with one of them.

If you have been arrested and charged with one of these offenses, contact DiCindio Law to learn about your charges and the defenses that might be available to you.

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 by Deception

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

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

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 DiCindio Law.

Burglary Charges in Pennsylvania

Burglary is considered to be a trespass offense instead of a theft offense. 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.

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.

Robbery Charges in Pennsylvania

Robbery is the most serious theft offense. Two types of robbery are recognized in Pennsylvania, including general robbery and force used in the theft of a motor vehicle, which is called robbery of a motor vehicle.

You may be charged with a robbery if you threatened another person 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.

Potential Defenses to Theft, Robbery, and Burglary

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.

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 DiCindio Law, 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.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Law Firm in West Chester, PA

If you are facing criminal charges and need legal help, contact the West Chester, PA criminal defense lawyers at DiCindioLaw, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation.

DiCindio Law, LLC

29 S Walnut St
West Chester, PA 19382
(610) 430-3535

***This blog article is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. Please contact DiCindio Law, LLC for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case. ***