Philadelphia Theft From Motor Vehicle Defense Lawyers
Theft From a Motor Vehicle (FMV), 18 Pa.C.S. § 3934 is a commonly charged theft offense in Pennsylvania state court. It is similar to the general Theft by Unlawful Taking charge, but it differs in that it involves taking or attempting to take something from another person's motor vehicle without permission. It generally involves breaking into a car and stealing items from within the car. Because this type of theft often results in damage to the car, it is punished more severely than Theft by Unlawful Taking.
Is Theft a Misdemeanor or a Felony in Pennsylvania?
The gradation of Theft From a Motor Vehicle depends both on the value of the property and whether the defendant has prior convictions for Theft From a Motor Vehicle. Theft From a Motor Vehicle can either be a misdemeanor or a felony. If the value of the property is less than $50, it is a misdemeanor of the third degree. If the property is worth $50 or more but less than $200, then Theft from a Motor Vehicle is a misdemeanor of the second degree. If the property is worth more than $200, then Theft From a Motor Vehicle is a misdemeanor of the first degree. Finally, Theft From a Motor Vehicle is a felony of the third degree if the defendant has two prior TFMV offenses in the five years prior to the new charge.
Defenses to Theft From Motor Vehicle Charges
- Depending on the value of the property involved and whether the defendant has prior convictions, Theft From a Motor vehicle charges can become very serious. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney will recognize many defenses to theft charges.
- For example, as recognized in the case of Commonwealth v. Matthews, the mere possession of stolen property or property belonging to another does not automatically mean that the possessor of that property is the person who stole or it that they knew it was stolen. This issue comes up often when buying property on internet websites like Craigslist, and a good defense attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to drop charges or have the charges dismissed pre-trial by showing that the defendant did not have the requisite guilty knowledge or that the defendant was not actually the person who broke into the vehicle in question.
- Likewise, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge the valuation of the property and have the charges reduced in gradation when the prosecutor cannot show that the property stolen was worth more than $200.
We Can Help WITH THEFT CHARGES
The Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers of Goldstein Mehta LLC have had significant success handling these types of cases and obtaining successful outcomes for our clients. We recognize the issues in cases of theft crime and know how to respond to mount a defense. Theft cases are often heard in the Philadelphia Municipal Court, and our attorneys have handled thousands, of cases in that court. However, even when charged as a misdemeanor, theft charges are extremely serious due to the potential for damage to a defendant's career and employability. Therefore, if you or a loved one are facing Theft From a Motor Vehicle charges in Philadelphia or the surrounding counties, call 267-225-2545 today for a complimentary 15-minute criminal defense strategy session.
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The Theft From a Motor Vehicle Statute
§ 3934. Theft from a motor vehicle.
(a) Offense defined.--A person commits the offense of theft from a motor vehicle if he unlawfully takes or attempts to take possession of, carries away or exercises unlawful control over any movable property of another from a motor vehicle with the intent to deprive him thereof.
(1) An offense under this section is:
(i) a misdemeanor of the third degree if the amount involved was less than $50; or
(ii) a misdemeanor of the second degree if the amount involved was $50 or more but less than $200; or
(iii) a misdemeanor of the first degree if the amount involved was greater than $200.
(2) When the offense is a third or subsequent offense within a five-year period, regardless of the amount involved and regardless of the grading of the prior offenses, an offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.