According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, approximately 27 million Americans have committed an act of retail theft before. This statistic translates to slightly over 10% of the total population. About 75% of these offenses are committed by adults and 25% by children. Approximately 55% of shoplifters began stealing in their teenage years and over 70% of incidents are committed impulsively rather than being premeditated.
Delaware County Retail Theft Offenses
- 2013: 2,250
- 2014: 2,112
- 2015: 2,017
- 2016: 1,904
- 2017: 1,791
Retail Theft § 3929
According to Pennsylvania law, retail theft is an offense that may occur in several ways. It may involve someone assuming the possession of or controlling of any merchandise being displayed, stored, or available for sale by a merchant without paying the full price. One type of retail theft involves altering or transferring labeling or other markings of price in order to obtain the merchandise at a price that is lower. Other acts of retail theft involve removing, destroying, or deactivating security tags or devices that are used by retailers in their loss prevention efforts.
Charges and Penalties
- Summary offense: First offense and merchandise is valued at less than $150
- Second-degree misdemeanor: Second offense and merchandise is valued at less than $150
- First-degree misdemeanor: First or second offense with merchandise valued at more than $150
- Third-degree felony: Any third offense
- Third-degree felony: Merchandise is valued at more than $1,000 or is a firearm or motor vehicle
Delaware County: Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
The ARD program allows for saving time and costs associated with trials and other proceedings for first-time offenders. Admission to the program is at the discretion of the District Attorney and all offenders must have an attorney representing them. If the individual successfully completes this lengthy rehabilitative process, the original charges may be dismissed.
Delaware County: Treatment Court
The Drug Treatment Court is an alternative or diversionary option for non-violent offenders. Often the actions of those facing theft charges are motivated by a need to fund a drug addiction. It is a five-phase probationary process that extends for 30 months seeks to treat offenders with substance abuse problems. Participants are provided housing, vocational education, and avoid jail time. Initially, the defendant enters an interim plea of no-contest and is eligible for dismissal of the charges upon completion.
Presumptions in Retail Theft
Those who intentionally conceal merchandise either on or outside of the retail location are assumed to be committing a theft action. This concealment is “prima facie” evidence of intent to deprive the merchant of the possession with purchasing it.
Detention of a Suspect
Merchants or their employees or agents who have probable cause may detain those alleged to have committed retail theft in a reasonable manner. They may ask the suspect for identification; attempt to recover stolen merchandise and initiate criminal charges by informing law enforcement.
Suspects charged with a summary offense may be subject to fingerprinting by the local authorities. The fingerprints are then sent to the Pennsylvania State Police to determine if the suspect has a prior theft offense.
Delaware County Retail Theft Defense Lawyer
Attorney Joseph D. Lento provides highly effective legal defense for those facing charges such as retail theft in courts in Delaware County. He will closely review the details of the case and pursue a positive outcome on your behalf. For a complimentary case evaluation, contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.