Harrisburg/York Criminal Defense Attorney Answers: “What are the consequences or penalties for Retail Theft?”

‘Tis the Season for shopping. With Black Friday behind us, shopping for the holiday season is in high gear. While the occurrence of Retail Theft charges is not limited to the holiday season, there is often a spike in prosecution for this offense at this time of the year. This increase in Retail Theft prosecutions can be attributed to a number of factors including, but not limited to, a higher police and store loss prevention presence in response to the influx of holiday shoppers.

With the craziness of the holiday rush and increase in spending along with the stressors of meeting our daily responsibilities, an isolated act of poor judgment in response to the same can lead to a criminal charge of Retail Theft that can have life-altering consequences on multiple levels.

First, whether charged with a summary, misdemeanor, or felony Retail Theft, you face a possible conviction and criminal record for a crimen falsi offense, which is a Latin term meaning “crime of deceit.” Regardless of the grading of the offense, having a conviction for a crime of this nature on your record can impair your ability to obtain employment.

Second, Retail Theft is a recidivist offense. This means that once you have a conviction for Retail Theft, the grading and penalties for a subsequent or future charge can increase. For example, if you have no prior Retail Theft convictions and the item(s) you are accused of stealing from a store is less than $150, you will be charged with a summary offense. However, if you have one (1) prior conviction for Retail Theft and you are later accused of stealing merchandise of that same value (less than $150), you will be charged with a misdemeanor of the second degree.

Finally, the consequences or penalties you face in terms of probation, jail, and fines upon conviction for Retail Theft are based upon the grading of your offense (summary, misdemeanor, or felony) coupled with your overall prior record. Additionally, as indirectly observed above, the grading of a Retail Theft charge will based upon the value of the merchandise taken and the number of prior convictions for Retail Theft or lack thereof.

Your ability to minimize or avoid some or all of the consequences for a Retail Theft will be based on factors presented in your specific case. In order to obtain your objective, it is imperative to develop and implement a individualized strategy at the inception of your case beginning with the Preliminary Hearing or Summary Trial. If you have been accused of shoplifting, contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer experienced in handling Retail Theft cases today for a free initial phone consultation.


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