Pittsburgh Theft Attorneys

Theft involves taking someone else’s property without their consent or authorization. Theft crimes range from shoplifting to complex white-collar financial crimes. Receiving or accepting property you know is stolen is also considered theft when you have no intention of returning it to the owner. 

If you’ve been charged with a theft crime in Pittsburgh, speaking to an experienced criminal defense attorney is not just important – it is crucial. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP will provide a strategic, skilled criminal defense and give you the confidence that you are in capable hands. 

What Constitutes Theft in Pennsylvania?

The state of Pennsylvania defines theft as the unlawful seizure or deprivation of moveable property. It also includes the transfer or exercise of control of immovable property with the intent to benefit one’s self. Prosecutors must prove that the accused took someone else’s property with the intent to dispossess it from the owner permanently. Pennsylvania law recognizes the following types of theft charges:

  • Shoplifting (retail theft)
  • Unauthorized use of automobiles and other vehicles
  • Writing bad checks
  • Unlawful position or library or retail theft instruments
  • Organized retail theft
  • Robbery
  • Burglary


The crime of shoplifting involves taking merchandise from a retailer without paying for it. Shoplifting can also include failing to pay a retail item’s total price, hiding an item in a different container to avoid paying the full price, and switching price tags. Removing or destroying theft prevention devices to avoid paying for merchandise is another form of shoplifting. The penalties for shoplifting in Pennsylvania depend on the value of the allegedly stolen goods and whether you have prior offenses. 

For first-time offenders, shoplifting merchandise valued at less than $150 can result in a jail sentence of up to 90 days and a fine of up to $300. For second offenses, defendants can face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. When the merchandise is valued at $1,000 or higher, it’s a third or subsequent offense, and if the stolen item is a firearm, the defendant will face a third-degree felony. If convicted, the defendant will face up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.


Robbery is a theft charge involving the use of force or threatened use of force against another person while committing theft. To convict a burglary defendant, a prosecutor must prove you intended to commit theft and took property from another person. The penalties for a burglary conviction are severe and vary based on the use of weapons, the presence of aggravating circumstances, and whether the victim was harmed. For first-time offenders charged with felony robbery, the penalties are as follows:

  • First-degree robbery: up to $25,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison
  • Second-degree robbery: up to $25,000 in fines and up to ten years in prison
  • Third-degree felony robbery: up to $15,000 in fines and up to seven years in prison

An effective legal defense against robbery charges in Pennsylvania can be the difference between an acquittal or reduced sentencing or a conviction and significant jail time. A potential criminal defense could be arguing you didn’t intend to commit a robbery because you lacked the specific intent to steal.

If you can show that you did not threaten to use or use force, the prosecutor cannot convict you. Finally, you may be able to prove that you were mistakenly identified as the perpetrator or that police officers unconstitutionally gathered evidence against you. 


Burglary is considered one of the most severe property-related criminal charges in Pennsylvania. Prosecutors need to prove a defendant entered a building or occupied structure without permission and with the intent to commit any crime within the building or home. The intended crime doesn’t need to be theft; it could be minor, such as causing minimal property damage. 

Burglary can be charged as a first-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 20 years in prison or a second-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and up to a ten-year prison sentence. Defending against a burglary charge can include proving you had permission to enter the home or business, proving you didn’t intend to commit a crime, or showing your constitutional rights were violated. 

Defending Against Theft Charges in Pittsburgh

If you’ve been convicted of a theft crime, the consequences can be far-reaching. In addition to potential jail time and a significant fine, you may face difficulty returning to school, getting a loan, renting an apartment, and maintaining a job. Your immigration status or visitation with your children may also be at risk. Many theft charges are based on a mistake or misunderstanding, underscoring the need for a solid legal defense. 

The criminal defense attorneys at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP, are prepared to help you carefully review the facts of your case and develop a strategic, aggressive legal defense strategy. Potential defenses could include the following:

  • You were mistakenly identified as the perpetrator
  • You didn’t possess enough intent to take another person’s property
  • You had the property owner’s consent or permission to possess, control, or keep the property
  • The property was abandoned or lost by the previous owner
  • You acted under duress

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in Pittsburgh 

Theft charges in Pennsylvania are not to be taken lightly. The consequences can be severe, whether it’s a case of shoplifting or a more complex financial crime. Depending on the type of theft and the value of the items allegedly taken, you could be facing jail time, heavy fines, and a permanent criminal record. Even minor theft charges, such as shoplifting, can result in jail time. 

If you’ve been charged with theft, please contact Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP to learn more about how our skilled criminal defense attorneys can fight for you. Our litigators have a long history of getting charges dismissed or reduced for clients in Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania.