Charges of theft range in severity from misdemeanors to felonies. According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, there are three different grades of felony theft charges. Third-degree, which is the least serious and perhaps most likely to occur on college campuses, and first-degree, which is the most serious.
The severity of theft charges depends on the property taken and its value. Though conviction on any felony theft charge can mean incarceration, the duration of the prison term also varies based on the severity of the charges.
First-degree felony theft
A person can face first-degree felony charges for the alleged theft of property worth at least $500,000. Another situation that can incur first-degree felony charges for theft is taking, receiving or retaining a firearm by someone in the business of selling stolen property. These scenarios may not be likely on college campuses. According to Lancaster Online, the penalty for conviction of first-degree felony theft is a prison sentence between 10 and 20 years.
Second-degree felony theft
If the value of the property is between $100,000 and $500,000, the alleged theft may incur second-degree felony charges. The penalty for a second-degree felony is up to 10 years’ incarceration. Second-degree felony theft charges may also apply in the following situations:
- Theft of a firearm
- Theft of anhydrous ammonia in any amount
- Theft committed during a disaster, whether natural or manmade
Third-degree felony theft
The alleged theft of a motor-powered vehicle, such as an automobile, boat or motorcycle, can incur third-degree felony charges, as can the alleged theft of any property worth more than $2,000. A person in the business of buying or selling stolen goods can also face charges of third-degree felony theft for receiving the property. The prison sentence for a conviction on such charges is up to seven years.