Pennsylvania Retail Theft Lawyers
PA Retail Theft Lawyers
Thank you for visiting Lampman Law. If you or someone you love is charged with retail theft in Pennsylvania, we can help. We are experienced criminal defense lawyers that are in district and trial courts daily representing people charged with crimes throughout Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. Since Lampman Law opened we have zealously defended people facing retail theft accusations and have helped our clients avoid the criminal consequences and social stigma of a retail theft conviction.
If you would like us to examine your case, please call Lampman Law at 570-371-3737 to personally discuss the matter with us. We offer a free phone or in-office consultation. All consultations are also welcoming, free of pressure, and confidential.
18 Pa.C.S. § 3929. Retail Theft
A person is guilty of a retail theft if he:
(1) takes possession of, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof;
(2) alters, transfers or removes any label, price tag marking, indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value affixed to any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a store or other retail mercantile establishment and attempts to purchase such merchandise personally or in consort with another at less than the full retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of such merchandise;
(3) transfers any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment from the container in or on which the same shall be displayed to any other container with intent to deprive the merchant of all or some part of the full retail value thereof; or
(4) under-rings with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of the merchandise.
(5) destroys, removes, renders inoperative or deactivates any inventory control tag, security strip or any other mechanism designed or employed to prevent an offense under this section with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof.
Calculation of Value
A court must calculate the value as the merchant’s stated or advertised price of the merchandise.
A court may aggregate the value to determine grading when the offense is committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same store or several stores or retail mercantile establishments.
Calculation of prior offenses
In determining whether an offense is a first, second, third or subsequent offense, the court must consider:
any conviction, acceptance of accelerated rehabilitative disposition or other form of preliminary disposition, occurring before the sentencing on the present violation, for an offense under this section; and/or,
any offense substantially similar to an offense under this section or a similar offense under the statutes of any other state or of the United States.
Detention of a retail theft suspect by a store employee is authorized provided that it is supported by probable cause to believe that retail theft has occurred or is occurring on or about a store.
The detention must be conducted in a reasonable manner for a reasonable time on or off the premises to: (1) require the suspect to identify himself; (2) verify such identification; (3) determine whether such suspect has in his possession unpurchased merchandise taken from the mercantile establishment and, if so, to recover such merchandise; (4) to inform a peace officer, or to institute criminal proceedings against the suspect.
Any person intentionally concealing unpurchased property of any store, either on the premises or outside the premises of such store, shall be prima facie presumed to have concealed the property with the intention of committing a theft.
Provided that there is competent evidence to substantiate the offense, the conviction shall not be avoided because the prosecution cannot produce the stolen merchandise.
When retail theft is charges as a summary offense, defendants 16 years of age or older must be fingerprinted prior to trial or an entry of plea. Fingerprints so obtained shall be forwarded immediately to the Pennsylvania State Police for determination as to whether or not the defendant previously has been convicted of the offense of retail theft.
The issuing authority shall not proceed with the trial or plea in summary cases until in receipt of the determination made by the State Police. The magisterial district judge shall use the information obtained solely for the purpose of grading the offense.
Grading & Penalties for PA Retail Theft
Summary Offense Retail Thefts
Retail theft is graded as a (S) when the offense is a first offense and the value of the merchandise is less than $150.
A summary offense is punishable by a maximum of 90 days imprisonment and a $300 fine.
Misdemeanor of the second degree (M2) Retail Thefts
Retail theft is graded as a (M2) when the offense is a second offense and the value of the merchandise is less than $150.
A misdemeanor of the second degree is punishable by a maximum of 2 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. The OGS for these cases is 2.
Misdemeanor of the first degree (M1) Retail Thefts
Retail theft is graded as a (M1) when the offense is a first or second offense and the value of the merchandise is $150 or more.
A misdemeanor of the first degree is punishable by a maximum of 5 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. The OGS for these cases is 2.
Felony of the third degree (F3) Retail Thefts
Retail theft is graded as a (F3) when:
The OGS is 3 when offense is a third or subsequent offense, regardless of the value of the merchandise; or
The OGS is 5 when the amount involved exceeds $1,000; or
The OGS is 5 when the merchandise involved is a firearm or a motor vehicle.
A felony of the third degree is punishable by a maximum of 7 years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine.
Felony of the second degree (F2) Retail Thefts
Retail theft is graded as a (F2) when the offense is committed during a disaster.
A felony of the second degree is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine. The OGS is 8.
Enhanced Penalties for Retail Theft of Motor Fuel
In addition to any other penalty imposed, the defendant may be sentenced as follows:
First offense, to pay a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $250.
Second offense, to pay a fine of not less than $250 nor more than $500.
Third or subsequent offense, to pay a fine of not less than $500, or the court may order the operating privilege of the person suspended for 30 days. A copy of the order shall be transmitted to the Department of Transportation.
Lampman Law Defends Retail Theft Cases
It is extremely important to timely hire an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense when facing retail theft charges. As explained, retail theft cases are complex and the accused’s freedom and other important rights are at risk. Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer, as soon as possible, can help the accused build their case by gathering the evidence to build a robust defense. It is the best chance for an accused to preserve their liberty, legal rights, and their reputation.
When choosing a lawyer, it is important to seek the services of a lawyer that primarily practices criminal defense and that the lawyer has personally handled retail theft cases in the county where the charge is being prosecuted. Likewise, it is vital that the lawyer can and will conduct a full investigation into the facts and circumstances of the allegation. Obviously, challenges to the valuation of the items or funds allegedly stolen are extremely important in defending retail theft prosecutions.
Please contact us at 570-371-3737 if you have any questions. Should you choose to trust us with your case, our fees are reasonable, we always use detailed written fee agreements, and payment plans (including credit card payment) can be arranged.