Pittsburgh Man Pleads Guilty To Theft Of FBI Vehicle
It is possible for the courts of Pennsylvania to convict a person of a theft crime even if the stolen property was not in the defendant’s possession when the police found it. There only needs to be compelling evidence that the defendant stole the item or items from the rightful owner. Many theft cases involve defendants who stole property from the legal owner of the property and then sold it to someone else. If you did not steal the property from the original owner, but the police find the item in your possession, you can face criminal charges for receiving stolen property. In cases of theft and of receiving stolen property, the fact that the item was no longer in your possession at the time of the arrest is not a valid defense. To find out the best defenses to use in your theft case, contact a Pittsburgh theft crimes lawyer.
Can You Be Convicted of Vehicle Theft If You Returned the Car?
According to Pennsylvania law, motor vehicle theft is a third-degree felony, which means that the maximum penalty is 15 years in prison, plus hefty criminal fines. The charges apply even if you no longer have the car by the time police connect you to the crime. You can be convicted of motor vehicle theft if you abandoned the car, sold it, or even returned it to its owner. In the latter case, though, you could also get the lesser charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, also known as joyriding. As in every criminal case, the details matter. If you are caught joyriding, but there is no evidence that you stole the car from the legal owner, or even knew who the car belonged to, then you might get charges for receiving stolen property instead of vehicle theft. Of course, if the car belongs to a public entity such as a police department or federal agency, the charges will be more serious.
In the News
In September 2021, Lashawn Norwood stole an SUV that belonged to the FBI from Schenley Park; the vehicle did not have any noticeable markings that identified it as an FBI vehicle. There was a firearm in the car the last time the agent authorized the use of the gun and the car saw them before the theft, but when police recovered the SUV, the gun was nowhere to be found. In 2022, Norwood, now 57, was charged with theft of government property. There was no evidence that he stole the agent’s gun, so the charges related only to the SUV. Norwood pleaded guilty to the charges in March 2023, but new reports did not mention a sentencing date or possible sentencing range.
Contact Gary E. Gerson About Theft Crime Cases
A criminal defense lawyer can represent you in criminal court if you are facing charges related to theft or receiving stolen property. Contact the law offices of Gary E. Gerson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania about your case.