The state of Pennsylvania takes all forms of retail theft seriously, including shoplifting. If you have been accused of stealing from a retailer, it is no small matter, even if it is your first offense. If convicted, you can go to jail for up to seven years, face exorbitant fines, and be subject to a criminal record that can follow you for years to come. Speak to our expert shoplifting and retail theft lawyer to go over the details of your case and go over your legal options right away.
The value of the merchandise stolen and your previous criminal record largely determine the penalties that you face if convicted of the charges against you. Offenses are classified as follows:
- Summary offense – retail value of $150 or less, first offense, punishable by up to 90 days incarceration and fines of up to $300, establishment of criminal record for five years (potentially permanent)
- Second-degree misdemeanor – retail value of $150 or less, second offense, punishable by up to two years in jail and fines of up to $5,000, establishment of permanent criminal record
- First-degree misdemeanor – retail value of $150 or more, up to one prior offense, up to five years in jail and fines of up to $10,000, establishment of permanent criminal record
- Third-degree felony – retail value of $2,001 or more or theft of a firearm or two prior convictions regardless of retail value; up to seven years in jail and fines of up to $15,000
Keep in mind that even if you were not shoplifting, if you served as a lookout for a shoplifter or you drove a “getaway” car following the theft, you can also be charged with retail theft.
As you can see, the courts take theft cases, including retail theft, seriously. Jail time and fines can be hefty, and then you’re left with a permanent record of your crime that can prevent you from getting a job, renting a home, or even getting an education. For this reason, it is important to not take the charge lightly.
First-Time Offenders in Pennsylvania
If you are a first-time shoplifting or retail theft offender, then you may be able to participate in the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition Program, or ARD, in lieu of other formal punishments. This diversion program lets you avoid trial and risk being convicted and going to jail. Your retail theft attorney can help you determine your eligibility for ARD.
Working with a Westmoreland County shoplifting and retail theft attorney is key to a successful outcome in your case. If you have already been charged with the theft or expecting charges via mail in Pennsylvania, it is imperative to work with a seasoned theft attorney to minimize the impact of the charges against you. Our attorney will look for weaknesses in the evidence against you with the goal of a dismissal or non-guilty verdict, or in some cases seek to have your charge reduced to a summary offense. In some instances, negotiating for a guilty plea in exchange for a sentence of probation only is possible.