Were you or a loved one recently charged with a property crime in West Chester or across Chester County, PA? Property crimes can carry significant jail time and financial penalties.
An experienced West Chester property crimes lawyer at DiCindio Law, LLC can fight to have your charges downgraded or dismissed if possible. Led by a former Chester County prosecutor, our legal team has years of experience defending the rights of the accused.
If you or a family member have been arrested or charged with committing a property crime, don’t wait to get legal advice.
How DiCindio Law, LLC Can Help if You Were Arrested for a Property Crime in West Chester, PA
Any criminal conviction can have far-reaching consequences. Property crimes can be felonies or misdemeanors in Pennsylvania. However, it’s likely that state prosecutors will try to charge you with the most serious crime possible.
Our West Chester criminal defense lawyers can help safeguard your legal rights. At DiCindio Law, LLC, we’ve handled countless complex criminal cases over the years. We know the stakes are high. We’ll use the full weight of our experience to make it as difficult as possible for the prosecution to convict.
Hiring our attorneys means that you’ll have someone who will:
- Help you understand all of your legal rights and options
- Conduct an independent investigation into the criminal charges
- Identify any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case
- Negotiate to have the charges reduced or dismissed if possible
- Advocate for your rights in the courtroom if necessary
Many property crimes cases settle through the plea bargaining process. That doesn’t mean the prosecution will offer you a fair deal. Our West Chester criminal defense attorneys will provide the vigorous legal defense you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you build a strong defense.
Overview of Property Crimes in Pennsylvania
Broadly speaking, a property crime is one that causes damage to someone else’s property. While it may seem harsh, even minor property crimes can lead to jail time. The fact is, the law is designed to protect both people and their property from harm.
Some examples of the types of property crimes you could be charged with in Pennsylvania include:
There are many different levels of trespassing. On the one hand, you could be charged with a summary offense for simple trespassing.
Under Pennsylvania state law, a simple trespasser enters or remains on property while knowing that they aren’t lawfully present there. They are trespassing if they are:
- Threatening or terrorizing the owner or occupant of the premises
- Starting a fire
- Defacing or damaging the property
If the owner of the property has given notice against trespassing or told you to leave, you could be classified as a “defiant trespasser.” That means you could be charged with a summary offense, first-degree misdemeanor, or third-degree misdemeanor.
Second or third-degree felony charges may apply if you break into an occupied home. Felony-level trespassing charges arise if you “break into” the structure by breaking a lock, using force, or entering through some type of opening not designed for human access.
If you have been charged with criminal trespassing, call our law firm for help today. We can help fight to clear your name and work to prevent a criminal record that could follow you for years to come.
Criminal mischief is the legal term for vandalism in Pennsylvania. You can be charged with criminal mischief if you:
- Damage tangible property of another intentionally, recklessly or negligently through the use of fire, explosives, or other “dangerous means”
- Intentionally or recklessly tamper with someone’s property in a way that endangers a person or property
- Intentionally or recklessly cause someone else to suffer a financial loss by deception or threat
- Intentionally deface tangible property, whether public or private, with graffiti by use of any aerosol spray-paint can, broad-tipped indelible marker, or similar marking device
- Intentionally damage someone else’s real or personal property
- Damage property with a paintball gun or paintball market
Criminal mischief is a third-degree felony if the property damage exceeds $5,000 or causes some type of interruption in public services. If the damage exceeds $1,000, it’s a second-degree misdemeanor. Third-degree misdemeanor charges apply when the damage is over $500. In cases involving minor property damage, the crime is a summary offense.
You can be charged with institutional vandalism for causing property damage to certain types of structures and property, including:
- Churches, synagogues, or other religious sites
- A cemetery or mortuary
- A school, community building, municipal building, government building, courthouse, or juvenile detention center
- Property occupied or owned by one of these facilities
- Personal property located in one of these facilities
Institutional vandalism is a third-degree felony if the damage is worth more than $5,000. Otherwise, it’s a second-degree misdemeanor.
Arson is a serious criminal offense. Not only does it cause significant property damage, but it has the potential to endanger human lives.
You can be charged with arson in Pennsylvania for:
- Intentionally starting a fire that could damage property
- Starting a fire with the intent to damage property
- Recklessly endangering another person
- Helping someone start a fire or paying someone else to start a fire
The severity of the crime depends on a few different factors. If you start a fire and know the structure is occupied, you could be charged with a first-degree felony. If you intentionally or recklessly start a fire on unoccupied property, you could still face second-degree felony charges
Even if the fire doesn’t cause any damage, you could be charged with dangerous burning if you intentionally or recklessly start a fire with the intent of putting someone in danger or causing property damage. Dangerous burning is generally a summary offense.
What are the Penalties for Property Crimes in Chester County, Pennsylvania?
Don’t make the mistake of brushing off the charges if you’ve been accused of a property crime. A conviction will result in a criminal record that can follow you for years. More serious property offenses can lead to jail time.
Under Pennsylvania state law, you could face the following penalties if you’re convicted of a crime:
- Summary offense: between zero and 90 days in jail and up to $250 in fines
- Third-degree misdemeanor: 90 days in jail and up to $5,000 in fines
- Second-degree misdemeanor: two years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines
- First-degree misdemeanor: five years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines
- Third-degree felony: seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
- Second-degree felony: ten years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines
- First-degree felony: up to 25 years in prison and $25,000 in fines
Of course, the exact punishment will depend on the circumstances. Still, any criminal conviction can make life difficult. You could also face collateral consequences, such as:
- Community service
- Immigration problems
- Difficulty finding employment or housing
- Problems in child custody cases
- Damage to your reputation
- Loss of the right to own a firearm or vote (in felony cases)
You don’t have to accept these penalties without a fight. An experienced West Chester property crimes attorney at DiCindio Law, LLC is standing by to fight for you. All you have to do is call our law firm to schedule a free case evaluation today.
What Defenses Can Be Raised if I’m Accused of a Property Crime?
A strong defense is the only way to avoid conviction for criminal charges. If you were charged with a crime, the odds are good that police and prosecutors have some type of incriminating evidence. That doesn’t mean you’re automatically guilty.
Some examples of defenses that can be raised if you’re facing criminal charges include:
- Law enforcement obtained evidence through an illegal search or seizure
- Your constitutional rights were violated
- You did not intend to commit the crime
- Lack of evidence to prove the criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt
- Mistaken identity
Prosecutors often charge people with the most serious crime possible. Our lawyers can identify weaknesses that may motivate state prosecutors to dismiss or downgrade your charges to a lesser crime.
Call to schedule a free initial consultation today to learn more about how our legal team can help if you’re charged with arson, receiving stolen property, or another property offense in West Chester or across Chester County.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a West Chester Property Crimes Lawyer
At DiCindio Law, LLC, we’ve been serving clients in West Chester, PA, and Chester County for years. We know the law inside and out. We would be proud to fight to protect your legal rights, so call to schedule a free consultation with an experienced West Chester property crimes lawyer today.