West Chester PA Retail Theft Lawyer
Understand the consequences of pleading guilty or paying the fine to the crime of retail theft before it impacts your future.
Whether you live in West Chester PA, in Chester County or throughout suburban Philadelphia, a retail theft is often the secret people think they can keep to themselves. Whether it is a minor in middle school or high school; a college student; or an adult, all too often there is a temptation to “quietly” pay the citation for retail theft rather than fight the charge. That is almost always a mistake that will come back to haunt you. Before you make the mistake of trying to handle it yourself, seek the consultation, legal advice and representation of an experienced and aggressive West Chester PA Retail Theft Lawyer. Contact us by EMAIL or call at (610) 692-8700.
The crime of retail theft (more commonly known as shoplifting) is a common offense nationwide, but merchants and establishments have increased security efforts to catch and prevent visitors from walking out of stores without paying for merchandise. Alleged offenders can face criminal charges if they commit retail theft in Pennsylvania, and people who have been previously convicted of this crime can face felony charges.
Not every case of a customer leaving an establishment without paying for an item involves criminal intent though. Many people are guilty of nothing more than simply forgetting that they had items in their possession and were frequently more than willing to pay for those items.
Lawyer for Retail Theft Arrests in West Chester, PA
Were you arrested in southeastern Pennsylvania for allegedly shoplifting? You will want to contact Ciccarelli Law Offices as soon as possible for help achieving the most favorable outcome to your case.
Our West Chester criminal defense attorneys work as a team to get theft charges reduced or dismissed for clients in communities throughout Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Lancaster County. Call (610) 692-8700 right now to have our lawyers provide a full evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.
Retail Theft Charges Are More Common Than You Think
Retail Theft charges seem to be on the rise in suburban Philadelphia. For one thing, stores continue to aggressively monitor and prosecute suspected thefts through the use of video and hired security. In the case of security, it is not clear whether they are financially encourage to find suspected shoplifters but the danger of being accused is no less.
Along these same lines there seems to be an increase in the number of filings of individuals being accused of “intending to shoplift” or “conspiring to shoplift” Examples are of people who are prosecuted for shoplifting before they have attempted to leave the store and/or have the ability to pay for the “stolen” item(s). Another example is where store security will charge a group of people who walked into the store together as acting in concert (or conspiracy) to steal an item though only one person of the group actually took an item. Do not be the victim of an overly aggressive or unfairly motivated business or a private security cop looking to meet a quote. Speak to an aggressive, experienced Chester County Retail Theft Lawyer based in West Chester PA. Contact us by email or call (610) 692-8700.
Understand the Impact of Retail Theft in Chester County
Whether it was a misunderstanding or a mistake, whether you are facing prosecution for a summary citation; or a criminal misdemeanor or felony for an allegation of shoplifting at a grocery store or supermarket like Wegman’s in Downingtown; a big box like Walmart in Parkesburg or at a shopping center like the Exton Mall or King of Prussia Court & Plaza; understanding your rights and your possible penalties does matter.
In Pennsylvania, retail theft is codified under section 3929(a) of the criminal code and states that it is “the taking of any merchandise without paying the full value required.”..and this can include “actually removing merchandise from the store, changing or removing labels and price tags or tampering with security tags.”
How can this impact you: Any one cited or charged with retail theft can be fingerprinted. If it is determined this is your first offense and the value of the stolen merchandise is less than $150.00, then it is a summary offense. However, if you receive a second offense in your lifetime, it automatically becomes a criminal misdemeanor. The gravity of the offense rises to a misdemeanor of the first decree if the value of the item is between $150.00 and $2,000.00. A third offense in your life time boosts the offense to a Felony! Each of these offense carry potential jail time, a criminal record and monetary damages to the store over and above the value of the items. Email now or call (610) 692-8700.
We are often judged by what people consider to be our character or credibility or honesty. Too often, people are apt to judge us for any past mistake or transgression. Acts of dishonesty are most damages to our character and our ability to obtain and maintain employment and thrive in a community. Any criminal record at all, and especially, a criminal record for crimes of dishonesty (crimen falsi) such as retail theft, shoplifting, theft and stealing can be the difference between a successful livelihood and a life of embarrassment in struggle.
One means to erase the errors of our youth is to seek an expungement or pardon of a prior offense. A first offense of Retail theft can remain on your record for your entire life even though it may have been a misjudgment of youth or young adulthood from stealing a pack of bubblegum or a candybar. That summary offense will remain on your record unless you take action.
Overview of Shoplifting Crimes in Chester County
- How can a person be charged with retail theft?
- What are the consequences of being convicted of this crime?
- Where can I find more information about shoplifting in Pennsylvania?
Retail Theft Charges in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 3929 defines retail theft as a crime that an alleged offender commits if he or she:
- takes possession of, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof;
- alters, transfers or removes any label, price tag marking, indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value affixed to any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a store or other retail mercantile establishment and attempts to purchase such merchandise personally or in consort with another at less than the full retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of such merchandise;
- transfers any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment from the container in or on which the same shall be displayed to any other container with intent to deprive the merchant of all or some part of the full retail value thereof;
- under-rings with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of the merchandise; or
- destroys, removes, renders inoperative or deactivates any inventory control tag, security strip or any other mechanism designed or employed to prevent an offense under this section with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof.
Shoplifting Penalties in Chester County
The possible sentence an alleged offender receives if convicted of retail theft will depend on that person’s prior criminal record and the value of the merchandise that was allegedly stolen. Possible consequences of shoplifting convictions may include:
- First Offense — When the merchandise involved has a value of less than $150, retail theft is a summary offense punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. If the merchandise involved has a value of $150 or more, the crime is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Second Offense — When the merchandise involved has a value of less than $150, shoplifting is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. If the merchandise involved has a value of $150 or more, the offense is a first-degree misdemeanorpunishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third or Subsequent Offense — Regardless of the value of the merchandise involves, a third or subsequent retail theft conviction is a third-degree felony punishable by seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
When the merchandise involved is a firearm or a motor vehicle, or has a value that exceeds $1,000, the crime is always graded as a third-degree felony punishable by seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Furthermore, convictions for retail theft of motor fuel are subject to additional fines of $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense, and $500 as well as a 30-day suspension of driving privileges for third or subsequent offenses.
It is also important to remember that Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 8308 establishes that alleged offenders can also be liable for civil damages if convicted of shoplifting. Damages in such cases may include the value of the merchandise if it is not returned in its original condition as well as reasonable attorney fees and reasonable court costs.
Pennsylvania Resources for Retail Theft Offenses
Pennsylvania Shoplifting Laws | National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) — NASP is a private non-profit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that considers itself “the nationwide leader in shoplifting prevention efforts.” On this section of the NASP website, you can review all of Pennsylvania’s laws relating to shoplifting. You can also learn more about NASP’s education programs for adults and juveniles as well as research from various recidivism studies.
Commonwealth v. Rodriquez, No. 929 EWDA 2009 — Lenora Rodriquez entered a Wal-Mart store and selected a portable stereo that she then placed in her shopping cart and took to the customer service desk. Rodriquez told an employee that she wanted to return the stereo and was given $137.66 in cash, but a Wal-Mart Loss Prevention Officer determined that Rodriquez used a receipt for a different stereo that was purchased at a different store to create a false impression during the return. The trial court sentenced Rodriquez to 11 and a half to 23 months incarceration for the retail theft conviction, but the Superior Court of Pennsylvania vacated that sentence. The court concluded:
Given the foregoing, the evidence was sufficient to prove that Appellant intentionally created a false impression to obtain cash from Wal-Mart and therefore committed theft by deception. The evidence was insufficient, however, to demonstrate that Appellant intended to deprive Wal-Mart of the use or benefit of the stereo which she temporarily possessed to facilitate the theft by deception. We therefore vacate Appellant’s judgment of sentence with regard to the retail theft conviction, and remand for resentencing.
Ciccarelli Law Offices | West Chester Shoplifting Attorney
If you were arrested for alleged retail theft in southeastern Pennsylvania, it will be in your best interest to not say anything to authorities until you have legal representation. Ciccarelli Law Offices can fight to possibly get the criminal charged reduced or dismissed.
Our West Chester criminal defense attorneys have office locations in Radnor, West Chester, Springfield, Kennett Square, King of Prussia, Lancaster, Malvern, Philadelphia, and Plymouth Square. They can review your case and answer all of your legal questions when you call (610) 692-8700 or fill out an online contact form to take advantage of a free consultation.
Retail Theft Lawyers fighting for you In Chester County & Beyond
Under Pennsylvania law, you have the right to petition for the expungement of a retail theft summary offense after a waiting period of five (5) years. Our lawyers are experienced in the practice and procedure of getting a summary retail theft offense expunged in Pennsylvania.
In the event that you have a criminal record for a misdemeanor or felony retail theft, shoplifting or theft offense, expungement is not an option unless you were eligible and successfully completed an ARD or accelerated rehabilitative disposition program. In the event of a retail theft resulting in ARD, you are also eligible for expungement and should consider contacting our office for consultation on clearing your record.
The pardon process may be the only option available in Pennsylvania when you face a criminal record for a misdemeanor or felony retail theft, shoplifting or theft charges. In that case, please look to consult with one of our Pardon lawyers on the options available to you.
Learn more about getting your criminal record expunged, from experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Record Expungement Lawyers that are knowledgeable about Pennsylvania Expungement laws and can advise whether you are eligible for an expungement or whether the pardon process makes sense for you. Contact an experienced Retail Theft Crimes Attorney at Ciccarelli Law Offices, at (610) 692-8700 or toll free at (877) 529-2422.