Shoplifting is a crime that is often seen as minor or harmless. Of course, this view changes tremendously when you are the person faced with shoplifting charges. You will not only face criminal charges but you can also be held civilly liable. Take these charges seriously because a shoplifting conviction can have a profound negative effect that can put you in jail and ruin your future. Officers and prosecutors are determined to convict alleged shoplifters. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a shoplifting attorney who will fight vigilantly to defend you from these charges.
Shoplifting Charges are Taken Seriously in Pennsylvania
Shoplifting is qualified as retail theft under Pennsylvania law. Retail theft is generally defined as taking possession of merchandise of a retail store with the intent to deprive the merchant of the merchandise without paying the full retail value of the goods. The law presumes a person who conceals merchandise before paying for it intends to take the goods even if the person has not left the store. This is the most common definition people associate with shoplifting. However, it is also illegal to remove any label or price tag affixed to any merchandise with the intent to deprive the merchant of the full retail value of the merchandise. This means, for example, switching price tags on items or removing the price tag in an attempt to pay less than the full value of the goods. The key element is the intent to deprive the owner of the full retail value of the merchandise and any actions taken to do this are considered retail theft under the law.
Pennsylvania Shoplifting Penalties Under the Law
Determining the penalty for shoplifting is based on the value of the merchandise that was taken and the criminal background of the accused person. The penalties for shoplifting can include significant prison time and substantial fines. The following outlines some of the shoplifting penalties under the law:
- A person with no criminal record who shoplifts merchandise valued at less than $150 may be charged with a summary offense with a maximum jail sentence of 90 days and a fine up to $300.
- A person with one prior conviction who shoplifts merchandise valued at less than $150 may be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor with a maximum prison sentence of two years and a fine up to $5,000.
- A person with one prior conviction who shoplifts merchandise valued at more than $150 may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine up to $10,000.
- A person with two or more prior convictions who shoplifts merchandise of any value may be charged with a third-degree felony with a maximum prison sentence of seven years and a fine up to $15,000.
Do Not Risk Your Freedom, You Need a Dedicated, Knowledgeable Attorney
The harsh punishments if you are convicted of shoplifting are quite scary. The chance of you spending time in jail or prison is significant and requires an experienced attorney to represent you. Our Philadelphia shoplifting defense attorneys focus on winning and providing you the best defense possible. van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin will fight on your behalf to win your case to help you avoid the strict punishments for retail theft. Our goal is to work with you to come up with a strategy to protect your freedom and defend cases that other less devoted lawyers may be reluctant to take.