While shoplifting is a fairly common crime in Chester County, many people fail to realize just how serious shoplifting charges are. Therefore, it’s important to understand the potential penalties and explore all of your options to avoid them.
If you’ve been charged with shoplifting in Chester County, the best thing you can do is contact a lawyer as soon as possible. At Skinner Law Firm, we can help you face your shoplifting charges and get a fair result.
Call (610) 436-1410 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Shoplifting Penalties in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, the severity of a theft conviction will generally vary according to the value taken and your prior criminal history.
- Summary offense retail theft. This is the least serious shoplifting charge you can face. It is only charged if it is your first offense and the value is less than $150. If convicted, you could face up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $300.
- Second degree misdemeanor retail theft. If this is your second shoplifting offense and the merchandise is worth less than $150, you could be charged with a second degree misdemeanor. If convicted, you face up to two years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
- First degree misdemeanor retail theft. You can be charged with first degree misdemeanor shoplifting if the merchandise is worth more than $150 for either a first or second offense. You face up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines if you are convicted.
- Third degree felony retail theft. You can be charged with a third degree felony If this is your third or subsequent offense regardless of value or if the merchandise is worth more than $2,000. If convicted, you could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $15,000.
As you can see, shoplifting charges can be very serious. $150 is not a lot of money, which means you could easily be charged with first degree misdemeanor shoplifting.
Understand Your Options
Too many people think that “it’s just a shoplifting charge” and realize their mistake only when it’s too late. Generally speaking, you have three options if you are charged with shoplifting:
- Plead guilty. If you plead guilty, you will have a criminal conviction on your record, and the court will impose penalties within the range dictated by law. Don’t assume that you will get a lighter sentence simply because you plead guilty. You should at least consult with an attorney before entering a guilty plea to understand your options and the potential penalties you face.
- Negotiate a plea agreement. A plea agreement will also involve a guilty plea, but you may be able to plead to a lesser charge. Prosecutors typically offer a plea agreement to resolve the case quickly. But be aware that the agreement may be unfair. An experienced shoplifting attorney can evaluate the offer and negotiate the best possible arrangement.
- Fight the charges. It’s important to keep in mind that the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. They may not have sufficient evidence to convict you or you could have a legal defense to the charges. For instance, the store may have mistaken you for the actual offender or lack evidence that took anything. Again, an experienced lawyer can assess the situation and develop an effective strategy.
Charged with Shoplifting in Chester County? Contact Us
At Skinner Law Firm, we understand the charges you are facing and how damaging the consequences can be. We’ll work with you every step of the way to make sure you get the best possible result.
To learn more, call attorney Skinner at (610) 436-1410 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.