Retail Theft/Shoplifting Lawyer Bucks CountyWhether you simply took an item or attempted to alter the item’s price in some manner, you may have shoplifted – or in Pennsylvania, committed the crime of “Retail Theft.” The crime is more complex than you may imagine, as there are a number of methods of engaging in Retail Theft which extend beyond ‘stealing’. The core tenants of the crime lie in the (1) depravation of full value, and (2) unlawful transfer of ownership, of an item. The penalties for Retail Theft are determined based upon the value of the item taken and the individual’s prior criminal history with respect to the offense. Penalties can be significant as the crime may amount to either a misdemeanor or felony. If you have been accused of Retail Theft you will need counsel to aggressively defend your rights and stave off potentially significant penalties. The Criminal Defense Attorneys with The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. can help.
Retail Theft FactsGiven the number of factors and actions which can amount to Retail Theft, it is best to refer to Title 18, Chapter 39 of the Pennsylvania Criminal Code with the assistance of counsel to understand which may apply. As stated above, deprivation of value and unlawful transfer of ownership are common components. In summary, there are five types of offenses under the code:
- Any action which transfers merchandise from the merchant to another without paying its full retail value.
- Altering the price marking of merchandise with the intent to purchase it for less than its full retail value.
- Switching containers of merchandise with the intent to deprive the merchant of full retail value.
- Under-rings with the intention of depriving the merchant of the item’s full retail.
- Tampering with security mechanisms designed to prevent theft with the intention of depriving the merchant of the item’s full retail value.
Degrees of Retail Theft CrimeRetail Theft is a:
- Summary offense when the offense is a first offense and the value of the merchandise is less than $150.
- Misdemeanor of the second degree when the offense is a second offense and the value of the merchandise is less than $150.
- Misdemeanor of the first degree when the offense is a first or second offense and the value of the merchandise is $150 or more.
- Felony of the third degree when the offense is a third or subsequent offense, regardless of the value of the merchandise.
- Felony of the third degree when the amount involved exceeds $2,000 or if the merchandise involved is a firearm or a motor vehicle.
What Should I Do If I Am Accused of Retail Theft?If accused of theft by a store employee, your best option is to stay put. Fleeing can only complicate matters and result in additional charges. Additionally, in Pennsylvania an employee has the right to reasonably detain a person who they reasonably believe has committed theft. It is best to avoid a potential physical confrontation, thereby avoiding harm to yourself and other potential criminal charges in the event you struggle or flee resulting in injury to your pursuer. Simply wait for police and allow them to take reasonable action. DO NOT answer any police questions until you have counsel present.
Why Do I Need an Attorney?You will need an attorney quickly in order to advise you how to proceed once arrested and have you released from police detention when possible. Only with the assistance of counsel can you ensure a well-organized, methodical defense designed to protect your rights and result in the best outcome possible. Contact the Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. to schedule an entirely free consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys. It’s time to begin preparing your defense today!
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.