West Chester

Shoplifting Lawyer

A retail theft offense in Pennsylvania may not be the biggest of transgressions, but a theft crime has the potential to create serious problems not only in the short term with regard to jail and fines but also when it comes to your permanent record. Even a misdemeanor retail theft conviction will be visible to anyone who makes the effort to look. That’s why you should work with an experienced shoplifting lawyer in your area to protect yourself and your future.

If you or a loved one have been arrested in West Chester, Exton, Phoenixville, Wayne, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, Downingtown, or anywhere in Chester County for shoplifting, contact Skinner Law Firm as soon as possible. It is important to discuss your options, how to best defend against a retail theft allegation, and to determine if you are eligible to have the charge reduced or dismissed. To schedule a free and confidential consultation of your case with attorney Michael J. Skinner, call (610) 436-1410 today, or reach out online.

Retail Theft Laws in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute §3929, defines that a person is guilty of retail theft if he or she:

  • Takes possession of, carries away or transfers any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or retail establishment with the intent to deprive the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying full retail value
  • Alters, transfers or removes any label, price tag or indicator of value, and attempts to purchase such merchandise at less than full retail price
  • Transfers merchandise displayed, stored, or offered for sale to another container with the intent of paying less than full retail value
  • Under-rings with the intention of depriving the merchant of full retail value.
  • Destroys, removes, renders inoperative or deactivates any inventory control tag or mechanism designed to prevent theft, with the intent to deprive the merchant of possession.

Shoplifting Penalties & Consequences in PA

Retail theft or shoplifting in Pennsylvania can span the entire spectrum of potential punishments. It can be a relatively minor summary offense with minimal consequences to the opposite end if you are charged with a third-degree felony.

Under §3929, the penalties for retail theft are based primarily on the value taken, prior shoplifting convictions on your record, and other relevant factors:

  • Summary Offense Retail Theft – First offense and the value of the merchandise is less than $150. This comes with a presumptive sentence of up to 90 days in prison and/or fines of up to $300.
  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor Shoplifting– Second offense and the value of the merchandise is less than $150. This comes with a presumptive sentence of up to two years in prison and/or fines of up to $5,000.
  • First -Degree Misdemeanor Retail Theft– First or second offense and the value of the merchandise is $150 or more. This comes with a possible sentence of up to five years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Third-Degree Felony Shoplifting – Third or subsequent offense, regardless of the value OR if the amount involved exceeds $2,000. Felony retail theft comes with a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison and/or fines of up to $15,000.

Additional Shoplifting Consequences

Considering that shoplifting is a crime that violates the trust of another, seeing this on a criminal record during a routine background check could disqualify you from countless employment opportunities, not to mention the social stigma that comes with being convicted of theft.

How a Shoplifting Lawyer Can Defend You

Maybe you left the store to get your wallet and forgot that the property was on your person. Loss prevention officers are also known to make mistakes when it comes to who they suspect. In any event, developing a strong defense strategy is essential to dealing with a retail theft arrest.

Hiring a qualified defense attorney who understands the intricacies of Pennsylvania law along with the processes involved in theft cases, will give you a much better chance at fighting the charges and getting them reduced, or even dismissed.

Some common defenses to shoplifting charges are:

  • You lacked the necessary criminal intent to deprive the merchant.
  • The alleged witnesses are unreliable, mistaken, or have ulterior motives.
  • You attempted to return the merchandise after inadvertently leaving the store.
  • The prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence to prove shoplifted beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • You acted under duress or felt threatened.

Michael J. Skinner is a former Chester County prosecutor with years of experience representing individuals dealing with shoplifting charges in Southeastern Pennsylvania. You have rights to protect and options to consider that may let you reduce the consequences or see the charges outright dismissed. Let our legal understanding and skill put you in a favorable position to fight the charges.

Arrested for Shoplifting in West Chester?

With such a wide array of potential outcomes in a retail theft case, it’s best to work with an aggressive defense attorney from the start. It could be the difference in preserving your criminal record and avoiding harsh penalties. If you or a loved one have been charged with shoplifting anywhere in Chester County, reach out to the Skinner Law Firm today. We will assess the situation, review the facts, pinpoint the weakness in the case, and guide your next steps, increasing your chances of moving on quickly.

To schedule a free, initial consultation with attorney Skinner, call (610) 436-1410.