Shoplifting in Pennsylvania
Have you been charged with theft in Reading?
Shoplifting is a serious theft offense in Pennsylvania and there are harsh penalties on the line. One of the main reasons that the consequences can be severe is that you may not only be facing criminal penalties. Shoplifting penalties may also result in being sued in civil court by the merchant involved. Pennsylvania refers to shoplifting as retail theft. There are several different scenarios that can result in retail theft charges, including:
- Taking merchandise from a store without paying the full price for it
- Altering or removing the price tag from an item in order to pay less than the retail price
- Transferring merchandise into a different container in order to not pay the full retail value
- Tampering with security devices in order to deprive the merchant of the property
Almost any act that has the intent to deprive the merchant of the property or the full retail value of the property may result in shoplifting or retail theft charges.
Shoplifting Penalties in Pennsylvania
The criminal penalties that follow retail theft offenses depend on the value of the property involved and the existence of a prior theft conviction. For example, if the property taken has a value less than $150, it is considered a summary offense and punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. In the same situation, if there is one prior offense involved, the consequences increase. In that situation, the offense can be charged as a second-degree misdemeanor and may result in up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. As the value increases, so do the charges and potential penalties. If the merchandise involved is valued above $150 and no more than one prior offense involved, the offense can be charged as a
first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. If the offense involves two prior convictions or a firearm, it will be considered a
felony punishable by up to seven years in jail and a fine of up to $15,000.
These are only the criminal penalties that can follow the offense; the defendant may also be sued by the merchant in civil court. Generally the damages pursued in court can equal the value of the merchandise, any actual damages caused and also the court costs and attorney fees.
Need a lawyer for a theft crime case in Reading?
If you are facing shoplifting or any other type of theft charges, contact me, Curtis E. Barnes, Attorney at Law, right away. I have more than 18 years of experience representing clients in their theft cases and I am familiar with the shoplifting laws and court proceedings in Pennsylvania. Call my firm today to schedule your initial consultation.