Types of Property Crimes
Property crimes in Pittsburgh involve unlawful theft, damage, destruction, or interference with a person's property. There is no violence used or threatened. The term “property crimes” encompasses a range of offenses ranging from the more minor, such as trespassing, to serious crimes such as arson.
At Rogers & Rogers, PC, we have successfully defended many Pittsburgh property crimes. Call (412) 434-7500 to schedule a Free Initial Consultation and learn how we can help you fight the charges you're facing.
Trespassing involves entering someone's property without their permission. It is different from burglary in that the defendant has no intent to commit a crime when they enter the property.
A defendant commits vandalism by destroying or damaging someone's property without their permission. Examples of vandalism include graffitiing, keying a car, or knocking down a street sign.
Theft is the taking of a person's property without their permission and with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. The potential sentences for theft vary widely based on the type and value of the property taken.
When someone unlawfully enters a building or structure with the intent to commit a crime, they commit burglary. Even if they don't commit the crime once they are inside the premises, they are still guilty of burglary.
Usually charged as a felony, arson is a serious offense that involves intentionally burning a building, structure, or forest land. The penalties for arson increase significantly if the premises were occupied at the time, or if anyone was injured or killed as a result of the fire.
Penalties for PA Property Crimes
Possible penalties for property crimes include:
- Restitution to the victim for their loss
- Community service
The penalty for a property crime depends on several factors, including whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony and the seriousness of the allegations, including the type and value of the property.
Defenses Against Property Crimes Allegations in PA
Depending on the circumstances of the allegations, there can be several defenses available to defendants in Pittsburgh charged with property crimes. Common defenses include mistake, necessity, and coercion.
If a defendant holds a genuine but mistaken belief as to the facts when they commit the act, they may not be guilty. This is because the defendant doesn't have the intention required to prove most property crimes, and so they cannot be held criminally liable.
For example, if a defendant takes another person's bike from a bike rack outside their apartment building because it looks almost identical to theirs, they may be able to argue the defense of mistake of fact.
Public or Private Necessity
Necessity is a common defense to property crimes for situations where the defendant interfered with the property in an emergency. If the defendant needed to interfere with the property to prevent greater harm to the community (public necessity) or themself (private necessity), then they are not criminally liable for the act.
For example, if a passerby sees a fire inside a closed shop and breaks a window to extinguish the fire, they may not be criminally responsible for the damage to the window based on public necessity.
Where a defendant commits a property crime as a direct result of immediate threats or force such as blackmail, they may be able to argue coercion. If successful, they cannot be held criminally responsible for the crime as they did not act voluntarily.
Speak to a Property Crimes Attorney in Pittsburgh Today
If you are facing charges of a property crime, it's imperative you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Rogers & Rogers, PC, we have the expertise and experience to craft a defense to get you the best-possible outcome. Call (412) 434-7500 or fill out an online form today to schedule a Free Initial Consultation.