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. Kalinoski Law Offices explains.

What is retail theft?

Under Pennsylvania law, retail theft (or shoplifting) occurs when he or she:

  • 1. Takes possession of or 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 was held or 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 you have been accused of any of the above actions, you need to be aware of the potential penalties you can face.

Penalties of PA Retail Theft, Shoplifting

The penalty you face after being charged with retail theft in Pennsylvania depends 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.
  • For a third or subsequent offense: Fine of $500, or the court may order the operating privilege of the person suspended for 30 days.

In some cases, you may be ordered to spend time behind bars, to pay back the cost of the merchandise, return the merchandise, and be ordered to community service.

In addition to these charges, individuals can also be found guilty of organized retail theft and/or robbery. 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.

Fingerprints are used to determine whether or not the defendant previously has been convicted of the offense of retail theft.

Who is most likely to be charged with retail theft?

When it comes to crime, we often want to know who is most likely to be accused, who is most likely to be caught, 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 is most likely to be charged with retail theft. Studies show that:

  • Men and women shoplift at equal rates.
  • Shoplifting can be motivated by economic needs. 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, if you find yourself being charged with it, you need to know you have options to defend yourself.

Defenses To Retail Theft

If you have been charged with retail theft, there are potential defenses to remove or lessen your charge. They include:

  • Lack of criminal intent
  • Mistaken identity
  • Mistake of fact

If you have been charged with retail theft in Pennsylvania, know that Kalinoski Law Offices is here to help.

Retail Theft, Shoplifting In Pennsylvania

If you are charged with retail theft, you likely are feeling many emotions like fear, embarrassment, and uncertainty. At Kalinoski Law Offices, we know that sometimes what actually happened and what is being suggested are two different things. That’s why we’ll review the facts of your case and determine the best course of action for your retail 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.

We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law to civil rights and personal injury.

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