The old five-finger-discount is often thought of as something of adolescent antics. However, retail theft isn’t just dropping lipstick in your purse or running off with over-the-counter medications. Retail theft can become a serious problem if found guilty in Pennsylvania.
We know in trying times, people will go to great lengths to provide for their families, or simply to make a quick buck. But when it comes to retail theft or shoplifting in Pennsylvania, there are penalties you need to be aware of. Let Kalinoski Law Offices explain.
What is retail theft?
Under Pennsylvania law, retail theft (or shoplifting) occurs when he or she:
- 1. Takes possession of transfers or causes the transfer of any merchandise offered for sale or on display by any store with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession and sale of the item(s);
- 2. Alters or removes any label/price tag marking, with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of such merchandise;
- 3. Transfers any merchandise by any store from the container it comes in or is displayed in with the intent to deprive the merchant of all or some of the full retail value;
- 4. Under-rings the merchandise while pocketing the remainder with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of the merchandise; or
- 5. Destroys, removes, renders inoperative, or deactivates any inventory control tag, used to prevent an offense under this section.
If the court accuses you of any of the above actions, you need to be aware of the potential penalties you can face.
Penalties of PA Shoplifting
Penalties for a retail theft charge in Pennsylvania depend on a variety of factors. These include the value of the merchandise and prior offenses. The courts determine the judgment for retail theft with the following guidelines:
- Summary offense: First-time offense and the merchandise was valued at less than $150.
- Misdemeanor of the second degree: Second offense and the merchandise is valued at less than $150.
- Misdemeanor of the first degree: First-time offense and the merchandise is valued at $150 or more.
- Felony of the third degree: Third or subsequent offense, regardless of the value of the merchandise; the merchandise involved exceeds $1,000; or if the merchandise involved is a firearm or a motor vehicle.
If convicted of retail theft, in addition to any other penalty imposed, the individual may face:
- For a first offense: Fine of $100 to $250.
- For a second offense: Fine of $250 to $500.
- On subsequent offense or for a third: Fine of $500, or the court may order the operating privilege of the person suspended for 30 days.
In some cases, the court may:
- Order you to spend time behind bars
- Payback the cost of the merchandise
- Return the merchandise
- Finish community service.
In addition to these charges, individuals can also face organized retail theft and/or robbery charges. Also, prior to trial or entry of a plea of a defendant 16 years of age or older, the defendant must submit within five days for fingerprinting by the municipal police of the jurisdiction in which the offense allegedly was committed or the State Police.
They use fingerprints to determine whether or not the defendant previously has any previous convictions of retail theft.
Who is most likely to receive a retail theft charge?
When it comes to crime, we often want to know who is most likely to face an accusation, who is most likely to face a charge, and who may face false accusations. With a rise in online shopping, you may think that retail theft has gone by the wayside, but the reality is not so.
While the common misconception is that one group of people may shoplift more than others, the reality is that there is no one demographic that faces retail theft charges. Studies show that:
- Men and women shoplift at equal rates.
- An economic need can motivate shoplifting. But in a 2008 study by Columbia University, shoplifting was more prevalent among people with higher education and income. In fact, shoplifting had more to do with a psychological factor than a financial one.
- According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), approximately 1 in 11 Americans shoplift resulting in nearly 550,000 shoplifting incidents per day.
While there are a variety of reasons why shoplifting and retail theft occur, you need to know you have options to defend yourself.
Defenses To Retail Theft
There are potential defenses to remove or lessen your charge. They include:
- Lack of criminal intent
- Mistaken identity
- Mistake of fact
Shoplifting In Pennsylvania
If you face a retail theft charge, you likely are feeling many emotions like fear, embarrassment, and uncertainty. At Kalinoski Law Offices, we’ll review the facts of your case and determine the best course of action for your theft charge.
Call (570) 207-4000 or use our online contact form today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case during a free consultation.