Property crimes rank among the most commonly charged criminal offenses in West Chester and the rest of Chester County. The severity of property crimes can vary significantly, depending on factors such as the method by which property may have been taken, along with the value of the property. These crimes can range from misdemeanors to felonies. Whenever you stand accused of any type of property crime, your freedom is at risk. Consequences stemming from a conviction of such crimes can range from many years in prison, high fines, and a long-standing criminal record. You deserve to have your case defended by an experienced criminal defense attorney; one who will fight for your constitutional rights.
If you or someone you care about has been charged of a property crime in West Chester, PA or the rest of Chester County, experienced violent crime attorney Joseph D. Lento is here to help.
West Chester/Chester County Property Crime Defense Attorney
Joseph Lento is a qualified West Chester criminal defense attorney, after having spent nearly two decades working in various roles within the Pennsylvania criminal justice system.
If you have been charged with any type of property crime in Chester County, Pennsylvania and need a comprehensive, customized defense, contact the Lento Law Firm. Joseph Lento built his practice on the ideals of customer service and justice and he will fight for your rights and freedom. Call (888) 535-3686 today to schedule your consultation and discover what Joseph Lento can do to clear your name.
Chester County Court Process
If arrested in Chester County for a property crime, your case will be scheduled for a preliminary hearing at the applicable Magisterial District Court. Chester County is home to 18 District Courts. Should your case proceed past the preliminary hearing, it will be scheduled for a formal arraignment at the Court of Common Pleas located at:
21 N. High St.
West Chester, PA 19380
The process will continue from that this forward, often either resulting in the case proceeding to trial or being resolved through non-trial disposition through dismissal or plea.
Property Crimes in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law defines a property crime as: when an individual commits an illegal act against their own or another's property. This can involve:
- theft (either permanent or temporary)
- defacing property
- committing fraud to obtain property
- creating fake items
- passing bad checks
- trespass on another's property
Common property crimes West Chester citizens are charged with include:
Common Property Crimes
- Also known as theft by deception
- When a person obtains or keeps another person's property through deception
- Degree of offense depends on value of the property
Bad Check Writing
- When a person writes a check or provides some other payment of money with the knowledge that a closed account, insufficient funds, or any other factor will not allow payment, or if it was counterfeit
- Degree of offense depends on prior offenses and the value of the bad check
- When a person intentionally starts a fire, causes an explosion, or otherwise assists another person in committing this offense
- First or second degree felony
- Sentence will increase to life without parole or the death penalty if loss of life is involved in the act of arson
- When a person enters a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime within the building
- Excludes buildings that are open to the public at the time of entry or persons authorized to enter the building
- Felony of the first or second degree, depending on the case
- The unauthorized or unprivileged entry and/or occupation of a building or occupied structure with the knowledge that it was unauthorized or unprivileged
- Felony of the second or third degree, depending on the case
- Intentionally, recklessly, or negligently damaging tangible property belonging to someone else, with or without intent to damage the person or property
- Deceiving or threatening another individual into financial loss
- Defacing or damaging tangible public property, or real or personal property of another
- Misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the property
- Altering or mimicking the writing of someone else without his or her permission with the intent to defraud or injure
- Degree of offense depends on what document is forged
- When a person uses or possesses the identification information of another person without his or her consent
- Each use of the information is a separate offense
- Degree of offense depends on priors and value involved in the offense
- Intentionally receiving, keeping, or disposing of another's movable property while knowing or believing the property was stolen
- Degree of offense depends on value of the property
- Taking possession of or removing merchandise from a store with the intent to deprive the store of the merchandise without payment
- Also applies to the alteration or removal of any security devices, tags, or labels with the intent to deprive the store of the merchandise without payment
- Intent of retail theft is presumed if a person intentionally conceals merchandise with the purpose of depriving the store of the merchandise without payment
- Degree of offense depends on value of the property and any priors
How to Defend Your Case in Chester County
The consequences of a conviction of a property crime can last far beyond the criminal court proceedings, and can impact certain areas of your life, such as your career, for years to come. Such crimes must be treated seriously in order to avoid these consequences. Several defenses are available to help protect your rights, including, but not limited to:
- Disputing the Value of Property: For many property crimes, the severity of the crime is based upon the value of the property affected. Your lawyer can argue the value of the property is lower than what has been put forth by the Commonwealth.
- Disputing the Identity of the Accused: If you were not the party responsible for the act in question, you can show that you were misidentified.
- Suppressing Evidence: Defense attorneys can file a motion to suppress evidence if that evidence was collected in a manner that was unconstitutional. If the police violate your constitutional rights at any point when collecting evidence, the evidence collected in an illegal way can be kept out of court.
- Showing Reasonable Doubt: Criminal cases must be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt," a very high standard. Your criminal defense attorney can present areas of doubt to the jury.
Working with a West Chester Property Crime Defense Lawyer
If you have been accused of a property crime in West Chester County, start defending your rights and your future with as soon as possible. Joseph Lento has dedicated his career to helping citizens facing charges like yours navigate the system and making sure justice is served.
For your consultation on how Joseph Lento and the team at Lento Law Firm can help you, call (888) 535-3686 today.