Theft Attorney Lancaster
Theft is a serious crime in Lancaster, and being charged with stealing can have lasting consequences. Being charged with a theft crime can range in severity, leaving you with hefty fines or even jail time. Contact our Lancaster criminal defense attorney to get the help you need.
Retail theft can be serious and is no small matter. The act of retail theft can occur in numerous ways, usually by taking merchandise from a retail establishment without paying for the merchandise, changing the price tag on an item in order to pay less for the merchandise, causing the cash register to ring up a lower value for the merchandise, or removing an anti-theft device in order to take the item out of the store without setting off security alarms.
If you are facing charges of retail theft in Lancaster, we can help. Our team of attorneys have the experience, passion, and consideration to protect your future and your freedom during this difficult legal process. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422. Our Lancaster Office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster PA 17603.
Understanding the Lancaster Retail Theft Charges Against You
In Lancaster and across the state of Pennsylvania, Retail Theft is defined under 18 P.S. §3929, and includes the following:
- A person could be charged with retail theft in the state of Pennsylvania if he or she took possession of merchandise in a retail mercantile establishment intending to deprive the owner of possession and use of the item without paying for the merchandise.
- A person could be charged with retail theft in the state of Pennsylvania if he or she carried away, transferred or caused to be carried away merchandise in a retail mercantile establishment, intending to deprive the owner of possession and use of the item without paying for the merchandise.
- A person could be charged with retail theft in the state of Pennsylvania if he or she alters a label or price tag, transfers a label or price tag or removes a label or price tag which was affixed to the merchandise and aided in determining value of the merchandise rom a store or other retail mercantile establishment intending to deprive the owner of possession and use of the item.
- A person could be charged with retail theft in the state of Pennsylvania if he or she transfers merchandise which is displayed, held, stored or offered for sale from the container it is in, to another container, intending to deprive the owner of possession of the item.
- A person could be charged with retail theft in the state of Pennsylvania if he or she under-rings the cost of merchandise intending to deprive the owner of possession of the item.
- A person could be charged with retail theft in the state of Pennsylvania if he or she destroys, deactivates, renders inoperative or removes a security strip or inventory control tag from merchandise, intending to deprive the owner of possession of the item.
The Plan: Get Answers on Lancaster Retail Theft from a Caring Lancaster Defense Lawyer
In Lancaster, the penalties you could be subject to will depend on the value of the merchandise and, by extension, the actual charge. If this is your first offense of retail theft in the state of Pennsylvania and the value of the merchandise you are accused of taking is less than $150.00, you could be charged with a summary offense and, if convicted, could face a maximum fine of $300 and could spend up to 90 days in jail. If this is your second offense of retail theft and the value of the merchandise you are accused of taking is less than $150.00, you could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
If convicted, you would face a maximum fine of $5,000 and could spend up to two years in prison. If this is your first or second offense of retail theft, and the value of the merchandise you are accused of taking is more than $150.000, you will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face a maximum fine of $10,000 and could be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison. If this is a third or subsequent offense of retail theft, you will be charged with a third-degree felony, regardless of the value of the merchandise. If the value of the merchandise is more than $1,000, you could also be charged with a third-degree felony, even if it is a first offense. If the merchandise you are accused of taking is a firearm or motor vehicle, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. If convicted of any of these offenses, you will face a maximum fine of $15,000 and up to seven years in prison.
Civil Penalties for Lancaster Retail Theft
In addition to criminal penalties, there are potential civil penalties for retail theft as well. The merchant who had items taken from him or her may file a lawsuit against an adult shoplifter (or the guardians of a minor shoplifter) in civil court as a means of recovering damages. The damages which can potentially be awarded are the value of the merchandise (if not returned in the same condition as when it was taken) as well as damages arising from the incident, court fees, attorney fees and additional civil penalties.
Intent as a Key Element in Lancaster Retail Theft
In order for the prosecution to prove the charges of retail theft, it must be shown that the accused had intent—specifically, the intent to deprive the rightful owner of the items without paying for the items. This means that a person could break the law, committing retail theft, without ever stepping outside the store with stolen goods. The act of concealing merchandise inside the store is considered to be evidence of intent. Retail theft laws also make it illegal to take any action to avoid paying the full purchase price, such as altering a price tag, placing an item in a different container or package, or otherwise manipulating merchandise to avoid paying all or some of the cost of the item.
Lancaster Lawyers Ready to Take on the Lancaster County District Attorney
As with any criminal charges, all the elements of the crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a successful prosecution. There must be clear evidence of concealment, and there must be intent, as well as probable cause to conduct a lawful detention and search the individual. While the exact defense one our our Lancaster retail theft attorneys will use will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your charges, some of the most common legal defenses for charges of retail theft include:
- Claiming an unreliable witness—Bystanders and associates may be unreliable when reporting a shoplifting incident to the police. Bystanders—as well as store associates—are usually busy and in a hurry, meaning they can easily jumble the sequence of events in their minds, or even mistake the suspect for someone else. Typically, police do not rely on the observations of witnesses entirely, unless there is additional evidence that you committed the offense of retail theft.
- Denying criminal intent—As noted, the prosecutors must show the defendant had the intent to take the merchandise without paying for it. Many times, a person could have an item in their hand, inadvertently walking out of the store with the item, but having no intent to actually steal the item. It is extremely important that you speak to a knowledgeable Lancaster retail theft attorney as soon as you are detained on suspicion of retail theft. In certain cases, it can be possible for your attorney to intervene prior to formal charges being filed against you. The sooner your attorney is in your corner, the more likely he or she will be able to have the charges against you dropped, helping you avoid a criminal record as well as the steep fines and potential jail time that could accompany a conviction of retail theft in the state of Pennsylvania.
Diversion Programs for Retail Theft Charges
The state of Pennsylvania allows certain individuals accused of a first-time, low-level criminal offense to avoid prosecution via a pretrial diversion program known as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). An individual who is accepted into an ARD program can avoid a criminal conviction by completing all required elements of the program as well as potentially serving a probationary period and making restitution.
Picking the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer Following Lancaster Retail Theft Charges
Charges of retail theft in the state of Pennsylvania can be quite serious, particularly if you are charged with a felony. Not only are there criminal and civil penalties associated with a conviction of retail theft, there are also additional consequences. You could find it difficult to obtain employment or could even lose the job you currently have. You could be unable to obtain a professional license and every time you apply for a job or even apply to rent a home, your criminal conviction for retail theft could be a barrier. If you have an attorney who advocates strongly on your behalf, the judge will see you are taking the matter very seriously, and your chances for a successful outcome will increase exponentially.
Far too many people believe charges of retail theft are relatively minor, therefore do not require the services of an attorney. Some may attempt to represent themselves after being charged with retail theft, however this is almost never a good idea. The prosecutor will be much more likely to negotiate a plea deal or ARD with your attorney and much less likely to do so with you, directly. Contact an experienced Lancaster retail theft attorney at Ciccarelli Law Offices today for the legal assistance you need.
Contact Our Lancaster Retail Theft Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with retail theft in Lancaster, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced Lancaster criminal defense attorney immediately. Retail theft can significantly affect your career, your reputation in the community, and your future. That’s why the highly experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Offices fight aggressively for your rights and freedom after being charged with retail theft. Contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices today by email or by phone at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422 immediately to begin building a solid defense against these serious charges.
Get The Representation That You Deserve
If you are being accused of a theft crime in Columbia, Elizabeth, Steven, New Holland or any other surrounding areas, it is critical to get legal representation right away. The criminal defense attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices have the experience and determination to give you the best defense possible.
Over 100 Years of Legal Experience
Let our attorneys with decades of combined experience handle your case. Our team is experienced, determined, hard-working, aggressive and compassionate. With a shared blue-collar work ethic we work hard and get results.
Our Attorneys handle theft crimes that include but are not limited to:
The theft of small amounts of money or property below $1,000.
The theft of large amounts of money or property exceeding $1,000.
Theft committed using weapons or other force.
Theft involving the unlawful entrance into another person’s property.
Theft of property that a person had access to, but not legal ownership of, for personal gain.
Receipt of stolen property
Knowingly accepting property that was stolen.
Theft of another person’s personal information, including name, address, social security number, or credit card information.
Theft of intellectual property
Theft through violation of patents, copyrights, or trademarks.
Penalties for Theft Crimes
Penalties differ depending on whether your theft is declared a felony or a misdemeanor. Felony theft can have serious consequences such as $150,000 in fines and up to 20 years or more in jail time. Other possible consequences include:
Courts typically require a convicted person to pay restitution in order to compensate the owner of the property for their loss.
A person convicted of a felony may be sentenced to probation on top of other fines and jail time. Probation terms usually last for 12 months or more.
Felony theft fines can range from $1,000 to $150,000.
The lowest severity sentences for theft felonies can range between several months to two to three years. For repeat offenders, jail time can be 20 years or more.
While punishment depends on the circumstances of the case, a good theft defense attorney can help you get the best possible outcome.
Contact an Experienced Lancaster Theft Lawyer
The lawyers on our team have extensive backgrounds and fight for individuals’ rights in theft cases. If you’re in Millersville, Quarryville, Ephrata, Intercourse or the surrounding Pennsylvania area, call (717) 291-9400 or toll free (877) 529-2422 or get a free case evaluation online to get the experienced defense you deserve.