Bucks County Retail Theft Charge

According to the Bucks County Courier Times, retail theft, also referred to as shoplifting, is a continuing problem in the region. The article explained that retail theft is largely attributed to those who are seeking to sell stolen merchandise, often to support a drug habit. It also discussed the emergence of “organized” retail theft that involves groups of people working together. Some of the most commonly stolen items include:

  • Baby formula
  • Razors
  • Laundry detergent
  • Smaller electronics
  • Designer clothing and handbags
  • Caffeinated energy drinks
  • Tooth whitening strips

In 2017, the average cost of a shoplifting crime has risen to $798.48. This statistic is calculated after considering all indirect costs. Here in Bucks Country, the District Courts receive a total of roughly 130,000 cases of all kinds each year. In 2016, the number of retail theft cases was approximately 2,331 and decreased to 1,885 in 2017.

What is a Retail Theft?

According to Pennsylvania law § 3929 retail theft offenses may occur in various ways. It may involve when someone assumes the possession or control of any products on display, stored, or available for sale by any merchant without paying the full price. One form of retail theft involves altering or transferring labeling or other indicators of price in order to obtain the merchandise at a lower price. Other acts of retail theft involve removing, destroying, or deactivating tags or devices that are used by a merchant to prevent theft.

Retail theft in Pennsylvania is generally graded according to the value of the merchandise that is involved. The charges and penalties that are imposed are also enhanced when the offender has prior theft offenses. Prior offenses are those where the individual has been convicted in the past. The court may also consider retail theft charges that were processed through accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) or other similar forms of disposition. The table that follows contains the guidelines for these charges.

First offense and merchandise is valued at less than $150

Summary Offense

Second offense and merchandise is valued at less than $150

Second Degree Misdemeanor

First or second offense with merchandise valued at more than $150

First Degree Misdemeanor

Any third offense

Third Degree Felony

Merchandise is valued at more than $1,000 or is a firearm or motor vehicle

Third Degree Felony

Possible Penalties

Summary offense: A term of imprisonment of up to 90 days and a fine of up to $300 
Misdemeanor of the first degree: A term of imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000 
Misdemeanor of the second degree: A term of imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to $5,000 
Felony of the third degree: A term of imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine of up to $15,000

Importance of Retaining Legal Counsel

Due to the potential severity of the penalties that may be imposed, those facing allegations of shoplifting are encouraged to retain an attorney. Specifically, it is critical that your attorney is experienced in the realm of criminal defense in Pennsylvania.

Defense Attorney for Retail Theft Offenses in Bucks County

Have you been charged with theft from a retailer in Pennsylvania? The allegations may result in significant monetary penalties and periods of incarceration. Having a criminal record stemming from a theft charge may also have long-term effects on your future when subjected to background checks. Attorney Joseph D. Lento will review the facts and evidence and design an effective defense strategy. For a free initial consultation, contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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