I’ve been dealing with the crime of retail theft as an attorney for almost twenty years and during this time the law has changed more than most other statutes that are on the books. Not only has the law changed, but the procedure in which police departments deal with Retail Theft offenses across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have also changed. Things to be aware of:
- While a first offense for Retail Theft of merchandise under $150.00 is a summary offense, and can be dispensed with at the District Justice level, it is the only summary offense conviction that creates a criminal record that is able to be accessed by reporting agencies. This means that a conviction for a summary Retail Theft can be seen by employers, prospective employers, and schools.
- Many police departments now require those cited for a summary Retail Theft to have their fingerprints taken. This is the only summary offense the Commonwealth requires this for.
- Retail Theft is an “escalating penalty” offense. This means that the grading of the offense charged will go up every time you are convicted. For example, while a first Retail Theft conviction may be a summary offense, a second conviction will always AT LEAST be a misdemeanor, and that a third conviction will ALWAYS be charged as a felony.
- Increasingly, store detectives and police are pursuing prosecutions where the person accused never actually tried to leave the store with the merchandise, but merely concealed the merchandise for a short period of time and, in the store detectives opinion, was going to attempt to leave the store without paying.
In short, department stores and other retailers like Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and J.C. Penney’s, as well as other mall stores and outlets located in King Prussia and Limerick, are losing large amounts of money to shoplifters each year and are putting pressure on the Commonwealth to take greater measures to curtail the amount of thefts that do occur.
If you or a loved one are charged with Retail Theft, or any theft offense is Pennsylvania, contact the Law Offices of Basil D. Beck III at 610-239-8870 for a free consultation at one of my offices in Norristown, Lansdowne, or Paoli, Pennsylvania.