Although shoplifting may sound like a minor offense, a shoplifting conviction still can result in jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record of dishonest behavior. As the value of the merchandise stolen increases, the potential severity of the penalties also increases. For those accused of shoplifting or retail theft under Pennsylvania law, contacting a Delaware County shoplifting lawyer for advice may be beneficial.
In some cases, shoplifting charges arise from mistakes or inattention of individuals as they are shopping or working in retail establishments. Other defenses may be applicable in specific cases, as well. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the facts surrounding your situation and determine the best course of action in your case.
18 Pa.C.S. § 3929 defines retail theft, or shoplifting, as taking merchandise that is for sale in a retail store without paying full market value for it. However, retail theft also occurs in the following situations:
As a result of these definitions, retail theft covers far more than taking items from a store without paying for them. Since theft is a serious offense under Pennsylvania law, individuals facing retail theft charges may wish to consult a shoplifting lawyer in Delaware County for advice.
Charges and the resulting penalties in retail theft cases depend on the value of the merchandise stolen and the history of prior convictions that individuals have. Charges for a retail theft conviction include the following:
The maximum penalties for conviction on a summary offense include 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. A second-degree misdemeanor conviction can result in up to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine. For a first-degree misdemeanor conviction, the penalties may include a maximum five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
When shoplifting becomes a felony offense, the possible sanctions become even more severe. For example, in the case of a third-degree felony conviction, individuals could serve up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. A felony conviction also will remain on your permanent record and cause you to lose some civil rights, including the right to possess and carry firearms.
This statute also assesses additional fines for individuals who commit retail theft of motor vehicle gas, which depends upon the number of prior offenses that individuals have. As all shoplifting offenses have the potential for incarceration and fines, individuals may be wise to seek the advice of a knowledgeable attorney in Delaware County when they become aware of the charges against them.
Shoplifting can have harsh consequences, particularly if you have prior convictions. As a result, you may be better situated to resolve your charges more favorably if you have an experienced Delaware County shoplifting lawyer on your side. Legal advocacy on your behalf can make a significant difference in the impact that these charges ultimately have on your life.
There is no need to give up, plead guilty, and accept your punishment without first considering all possibilities for resolving your case. Legal counsel can investigate the facts surrounding your case and help develop the approach that is most likely to benefit you.