THEFT OF MISLAID PROPERTY IN PA
The concept of “Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers” will get you in trouble in Pennsylvania. If you find a missing wallet, cash or property belonging to another person and don’t make arrangements to return the property to the true owner, you can face Theft of Mislaid Property in Pennsylvania.
THEFT OF MISLAID PROPERTY DEFINED
Theft of Property Lost, Mislaid or Delivered by Mistake is found under title 18 Pa.C.S. 3924 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. A person commits this offense if he does the following:
The offender comes into control of the property of another person;
The offender knows that the property was lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake as to the recipient, nature or amount of property; AND
The offender fails to take reasonable measures to restore the property to a person entitled to have it.
HOW SERIOUS ARE MY THEFT OF MISLAID PROPERTY CHARGES?
The grading of a Theft of Mislaid Property offense depends on the value of the property involved, as follows:
1st-Degree Felony: Punishable by up to 20 years in prison if the property value is more than $500,000.
2nd-Degree Felony: Punishable by up to 10 years in prison when the property is:
A firearm; or
Valued at over $100,000 but less than $500,000; or
3rd-Degree Felony: Punishable by up to 7 years in prison when the property is valued at more than $2,000.
1st-Degree Misdemeanor: If the property is valued at more than $200, but less than $2,000.
2nd-Degree Misdemeanor: If the property is valued at more than $50 but less than $200.
3rd Degree Misdemeanor: If the property is valued at less than $50.
WHY AM I BEING CHARGED WITH THEFT OF MISLAID PROPERTY?
Typically a person is charged with Theft of Mislaid Property when they find property belonging to another person and keep it for themselves. Common circumstances where individuals have been charged with this offense is when they’ve picked up lost wallets, taken money or credit cards, and failed to turn in the wallet to lost and found or to police.
WHAT ARE MY OBLIGATIONS IF I FIND LOST PROPERTY?
If you find a missing wallet or other item of property, you can simply not touch the property altogether to avoid any legal obligations. However, if you locate missing property, you must take affirmative steps to restore the property to its rightful owner. For example, if you find a wallet left behind by a customer at a store, you have to return the wallet to store employees without taking any items inside of the wallet. Alternatively, if you find missing property outside of a store, you should contact your local police department and make arrangements to return the item to your police department, or have police come to retrieve the item directly.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M CHARGED WITH THEFT OF MISLAID PROPERTY?
The first step you need to take if you’re charged with or under investigation for taking lost property is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Police officers and District Attorneys Offices are often angered by these cases, as they view them as entirely senseless and avoidable criminal acts. It is critically important to retain a qualified lawyer who can help minimize the consequences of a poor decision.
Don’t let one mistake turn into two by failing to retain a qualified attorney. Attorney Dave Zuckerman and the Zuckerman Law Firm have defended those accused of Theft of Mislaid Property throughout Western Pennsylvania. Our firm’s most recent case results for this offense are as follows:
M1 Theft of Mislaid Property - Washington County: Negotiated a Rule 586 Settlement whereby charges were dismissed and expungement petition granted.
M2 Theft of Mislaid Property - Butler County: Despite prior offense more than 10 years ago, negotiated entry into ARD program where criminal record to be expunged in future.
M2 Theft of Mislaid Property - Allegheny County: Negotiated withdrawal of misdemeanor theft charge in return for guilty plea to summary disorderly conduct charge for fines/costs only.
For a free consultation, call the Zuckerman Law Firm today at 412-447-5580.