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Home 9 Theft 9 Facing Retail Theft Charges in PA? Learn These Important Facts!

Facing Retail Theft Charges in PA? Learn These Important Facts!

A person putting a shirt in her purse at the store with the intent of stealing it.

As you navigate the complex landscape of retail theft charges in Pennsylvania, it’s crucial to understand the implications, consequences, and legal nuances involved. For individuals facing the daunting prospect of being a repeat or first-time offender of retail theft, the stakes can feel overwhelming. The fear of criminal proceedings, potential jail time, and the impact on one’s criminal record can be distressing.

In this blog post, you will delve into the intricacies of retail theft charges in Pennsylvania, uncovering what every individual needs to know to protect their rights and navigate the legal system effectively. From understanding Pennsylvania’s criminal statutes relating to theft to exploring defense strategies against theft allegations, this comprehensive guide aims to empower you with knowledge and insights.

At Marinaro Law Firm, our experienced criminal defense attorney in Lancaster, PA, stands ready to provide aggressive representation and strategic defense for retail theft cases. With over 30 years of experience and a commitment to personalized service, we offer thorough preparation, attention to detail, and unwavering support throughout your legal journey. Schedule a free consultation with us to ensure you have the robust defense and guidance to confidently face retail theft charges.

What Is Retail Theft in Pennsylvania?

If you are like many Pennsylvania residents, when you think about shoplifting, you might think about someone walking into a store, grabbing an item off of a shelf, and leaving without paying for that item. While this act may be alleged to be shoplifting, there are actually many other things that could result in you or someone else being accused of retail theft.

Retail theft in Pennsylvania involves taking merchandise without paying its total retail value, altering price tags, transferring items to different containers, or under-ringing items at checkout. As explained by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the term retail theft covers a broad array of actions and includes not only potential customers of an establishment but employees as well.

For example, if a person working at a cash register deliberately rings up an item for less than what it is supposed to be sold for, they may be accused of theft. Customers or employees who move items from one location in a store to another so that they may be identified as having a lower price may also find themselves accused of retail theft.

Tampering with a product’s security mechanism or price tag to result in a lower price or facilitate a person taking the object out of the store are other examples of potential theft crimes. These offenses may be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending upon any prior offenses, the value of the items involved, and the nature of the items concerned.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice, as it is instead meant to give Pennsylvania residents an overview of what may be classified as shoplifting or retail theft in the eyes of the state’s laws.

What Are Pennsylvania’s Criminal Statutes Relating to Theft?

Pennsylvania’s criminal statutes relating to theft outline the legal definitions and penalties associated with various theft offenses, including retail theft. Understanding the specific laws governing theft charges is crucial for individuals accused of such crimes. Whether it involves the theft of merchandise from a retail establishment or other forms of property crimes, the legal system in Pennsylvania takes theft offenses seriously.

The term “theft” includes a broad range of criminal offenses such as:

A man in a jacket hides an unpaid item in his coat.

How Are Penalties for Theft Crimes Determined?

The Commonwealth imposes strict penalties for those found guilty of any of these theft laws. Penalties for these offenses are severe and scaled according to the totality of the circumstances. You could face incarceration, probation, fines, loss of employment opportunities, and other consequences if convicted. Marinaro Law’s defense lawyer can help defend you against the criminal charges being lodged against you, explain your rights, and protect your interests.

In Pennsylvania, aggravating and mitigating factors affect how theft crimes are charged. Factors that influence the charging decision include:

  1. the dollar value of the property stolen
  2. if a weapon is used during the commission of the crime
  3. the defendant’s criminal record
  4. the evidence obtained to prosecute the case.

For more information about theft crimes in Pennsylvania, contact the experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive attorney at Marinaro Law for a consultation.

How Have Retail Theft Laws Changed in 2024?

In 2024, significant changes have been implemented in Pennsylvania’s retail theft laws, impacting individuals facing allegations of theft. Understanding these modifications is vital to grasp the potential consequences and legal ramifications associated with retail theft charges.

One fundamental change revolves around harsher penalties for repeat offenders, leading to longer jail sentences and increased fines for individuals with prior retail theft convictions. The expanded definition of retail theft now encompasses emerging forms of theft, such as online shoplifting and organized retail crime, broadening the scope of punishable offenses. Being aware of these legislative updates is crucial to recognizing behaviors that can lead to retail theft charges.

At Marinaro Law Firm, our seasoned criminal defense attorney, Michael V. Marinaro, stays abreast of the latest legal developments, including changes in retail theft laws. With over three decades of legal experience and a background as a forensic scientist with the Maryland State Police, Attorney Marinaro possesses the expertise needed to navigate complex theft cases effectively.

By leveraging his knowledge of criminal law and dedication to protecting clients’ rights, he provides strategic defense strategies tailored to the evolving legal landscape, securing the best possible outcomes for individuals facing retail theft allegations.

What Happens When a Person Is Found Guilty of Retail Theft Charges?

When an individual is convicted of retail theft charges in Pennsylvania, the repercussions vary depending on the offense’s severity and criminal history. Convictions for retail theft can lead to imprisonment, especially for repeat offenders or cases involving high-value stolen goods. The penalties for those found guilty of retail theft charges include:

 Value of Stolen GoodsDegree TypeFine
First OffenseLess than $150Summary Offense$100-$250
Second OffenseLess than $1502nd Degree Misdemeanor$250-$500
First OffenseMore than $1501st Degree Misdemeanor$100-$250
Third or Subsequent OffenseIrrelevant3rd Degree Felony$500
High-Value Items, Motor Vehicles, or Firearms StolenMore than $1,0003rd Degree Felony$500

Other Potential Consequences

In addition to the charges and fines listed above, a person convicted of retail theft may face:

  • Restitution to pay back the affected retailer for the value of the merchandise
  • Imprisonment or probation
  • The requirement to return the stolen merchandise
  • Community service
  • Loss of employment and future job opportunities
  • Difficulty securing housing

At Marinaro Law Firm, we advocate for our client’s rights and provide robust defense strategies to mitigate the consequences of retail theft charges. Attorney Marinaro’s commitment to delivering personalized legal counsel and unwavering support ensures that individuals facing retail theft allegations have the guidance and representation they need to navigate the legal system effectively. Contact us today if you need the best criminal defense lawyer in Lancaster, PA, to help you.

Do Courts Look at a Person’s Motivation to Steal?

Being accused of theft, embezzlement, robbery, or property crime is a stressful experience. Many people who have been charged wonder whether their side of the story will matter when they get to court. Do courts care what drives someone to commit theft?

When individuals find themselves entangled in retail theft charges, one crucial aspect that courts consider is the motivation behind the alleged theft. The reasons driving someone to commit theft vary widely, from financial pressures to psychological or situational influences.

Psychologists pay a lot of attention to motivating factors as they look at crime trends and attempt to determine what is driving them. It’s not just about looking at how the event took place or the eventual outcome. It involves looking at why it happened, what put that person in that position in the first place, and what that tells us about the human condition.

Understanding the underlying motivation behind the act of stealing can influence how the court views the case and may impact the sentencing or legal outcomes. By delving into the intricate details of an individual’s motivation to steal, the court aims to comprehend the circumstances leading to the offense and assess the appropriate level of accountability and potential for rehabilitation. Here’s what you need to know about how courts look at the motivation behind a retail theft crime.

Every case is unique

The first thing to remember is that each case is unique, with its distinct set of circumstances, evidence, and individuals involved. Everyone has their own reasons for the actions they take. No two retail theft cases are identical, as each situation presents complexities and nuances that require careful analysis and tailored legal strategies.

While looking at the general trends is undoubtedly helpful, it does not necessarily mean that every crime falls along the same lines. Each case is its own, and dozens or even hundreds of different factors can play a part. Recognizing the uniqueness of each case underscores the importance of personalized and individualized legal representation to ensure that the defense approach aligns with the specific details and challenges of the case at hand.

Rationalization: “I Need It More!”

When it comes to mounting a defense, motivating factors are only relevant in some cases. One of the biggest things psychologists note is that people tend to rationalize their behaviors. In many cases, with theft, they honestly believe that there is a justifiable reason to commit the crime. Often, they think that they need whatever the item is more than the other person. Such rationalizations are unlikely to carry the day in court, but every case is different.

A young, broke mother holding her baby, looking stressed out over formula.

For example, did you know that baby formula is a frequently stolen item? If you have a limited income — or no income at all — and you are a new parent, it is not hard to convince yourself that it is acceptable to steal formula for your child. You care about the child more than the legality of what you’re doing or the store owner’s income.

The problem here is that rationalization may make sense to the person committing the crime but not to anyone else. For instance, it could turn into a situation where someone is thinking, “That person has two iPhones, so I’ll just take one because I don’t have one,” or something similar. This thinking makes sense in their mind: “It is unfair that I do not have a smartphone while this person has two.” But that does not mean anything in a court of law.

Rationalization can stem from various factors, such as financial struggles, emotional distress, peer pressure, or a lapse in judgment. However, it’s essential to recognize that facing criminal charges for retail theft in Pennsylvania carries serious consequences regardless of the motive behind the theft. While the urge to rationalize one’s actions is understandable, seeking legal counsel and professional representation becomes paramount in safeguarding your rights and navigating the complexities of the legal system effectively.

Criminal rights

Of course, rationalizations do not mean the activity is no longer a crime. They just show why it happens. Understanding your criminal rights when facing retail theft charges in Pennsylvania is essential to ensure fair treatment and protect yourself during legal proceedings. As a defendant accused of retail theft, you possess certain fundamental rights, including the right to remain silent, legal representation, and a fair trial.

It is unlikely that a defense based solely on a rationalization will be effective. It’s crucial to exercise these rights and seek the guidance of a skilled criminal defense attorney who can advocate for you, safeguard your rights, and navigate the legal intricacies of your case.

How Can I Defend Myself Against Theft Allegations?

Facing theft allegations in Pennsylvania can be a daunting experience, especially when your reputation and freedom are on the line. If you’re accused of theft, it may surprise you and insult you if you are innocent. While not everyone who defends him- or herself is innocent of the allegations, many people are.

How do innocent people get accused? Some may have borrowed an item on the wrong day, failed to return an item to their offices, or even walked out of a store with an item because they were thinking about something else.

When asserting your innocence against retail theft charges, it’s crucial to approach your defense strategically and with the guidance of experienced legal counsel. You can argue that you’re innocent, claim intoxication, or choose one of several other helpful defensive options.

1. I’m innocent!

If you firmly believe “I’m innocent!” and maintain that you were wrongfully accused, gathering evidence, witness statements, and other pertinent information to support your case is essential. You may also be able to prove it by showing that you aren’t carrying the item you’re accused of stealing. You can strengthen your position in court by presenting a compelling defense that challenges the allegations and inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case.

2. I was drunk!

In situations where external factors like being under the influence come into play, the defense claim of “I was drunk!” can be complex but a possible defense. For example, if you’re accused of stealing someone’s phone, you could argue that you mistakenly took it, thinking it was yours while you were intoxicated. With the right legal team by your side, you can explore defenses based on impairment, lack of intent, or other mitigating circumstances to address how alcohol may have affected your actions.

3. You set me up!

Additionally, if you suspect foul play or manipulation leading to the charges against you, asserting “You set me up!” requires a meticulous examination of the evidence and circumstances surrounding the alleged theft. Known as entrapment, a situation like this happens when you commit a crime but are encouraged to do so by the person who wants to prosecute you. For instance, if your friend urges you to take an item that belongs to their mother and then calls the police on you for having that item, you may have been a victim of entrapment. By demonstrating that the prosecution lacks substantial evidence or that the situation was misconstrued, you can cast doubt on the validity of the accusations.

4. I Want My Attorney!

Ultimately, navigating theft allegations demands strategic defense tactics tailored to your unique situation, reinforcing the importance of hiring the right defense attorney to safeguard your rights and mount a robust legal defense.

At Marinaro Law Firm in Lancaster, PA, our dedicated criminal defense attorney specializes in handling a range of criminal cases, including retail theft charges. With a strong emphasis on personalized service, individual attention, and aggressive representation, we prioritize advocating for our client’s rights and providing comprehensive legal strategies that align with their specific circumstances.

By partnering with us, you gain access to experienced legal professionals who are committed to guiding you through the complexities of theft allegations, ensuring that you have the best defense possible to protect your future and secure a favorable outcome.

For Repeat and First-Time Offenders of Retail Theft Charges, Call Marinaro Law!

If you’re currently grappling with the weight of retail theft charges in Pennsylvania, you understand the overwhelming emotions that come with such a legal predicament. The fear, anxiety, and uncertainty surrounding these charges can cast a shadow over your life, impacting your reputation, livelihood, and future prospects. It’s natural to feel the weight of the situation bearing down on you, stirring up a mix of frustration, helplessness, and desperation as you navigate the complexities of the legal system.

Throughout this blog post, you’ve gained valuable insights into what a person needs to know about retail theft charges in Pennsylvania. By understanding the nuances of the law, the potential consequences, and the importance of a strategic defense, you’re now equipped with knowledge to navigate this challenging terrain.

However, you don’t have to face this battle alone. Our attorney services for retail theft charges at Marinaro Law Firm are tailored to ease your burden and provide you with the comprehensive legal support needed to tackle this challenge head-on.

By scheduling a consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorneys, you can take the first step towards resolving your legal woes and securing a brighter future. Our team at Marinaro Law Firm is dedicated to diligently preparing each case for a courtroom showdown, ensuring that you receive personalized, aggressive representation to defend against retail theft charges effectively. Don’t let the weight of retail theft charges crush your spirit—empower yourself by reaching out to us today and taking control of your legal journey.Top of Form


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