Montgomery County Retail Theft Charge

In 2017, Montgomery County had 2,755 retail theft offenses. The only two counties that had more offenses that year were Allegheny and Philadelphia. The National Retail Federation reports that some of the most commonly stolen types of merchandise include mobile devices, designer clothing and handbags, formulas for infants, laundry detergent, liquor, and more. Overall, between 2013 and 2017 the state experienced a 15% reduction in the number of such offenses. As shown in the chart to follow, Montgomery County did experience a significant drop in the number of charges in 2017; however, there was a notable spike in 2015.

Number of Retail Theft Offenses in Montgomery County (Five-Year Period)[1]

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

3,308

3,713

4,223

3,379

2,755

Retail theft provisions are outlined in § 3929. An offense may involve when someone assumes the control or possession of any products on display, stored, or available for sale by any retailer without paying the full price. One method of retail theft involves altering or transferring labeling or other pricing information in order to obtain the merchandise at a lower price. Other acts of retail theft involve the removal, destruction, or deactivation of security tags or devices that are used to prevent shoplifting.

The grade of a retail theft offense in Pennsylvania is generally based on the value of the merchandise. Offenders with prior offenses also face potentially upgraded charges and penalties. A prior offense is one of retail theft or a closely related charge that an individual has been convicted in the past. Offenders may be fingerprinted, which allows for referencing the state database to reveal previously related offenses.

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 (regardless of value)

Third Degree Felony

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

Third Degree Felony

Return Fraud

One common form of retail theft involves return fraud. This is a scheme where stolen items are returned to a store. In most cases, retailers now will not issue cash refunds for such items when there is no proof of purchase (receipt). The merchant may instead issue store credit. It is estimated that 20% of returned items are fraudulent.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program

The Montgomery County Adult Probation and Parole Department administers their ARD program. This alternative probationary process may involve submitting to “medical, psychological, and/or psychiatric” assessment, testing, counseling, or treatment. The participant must satisfy any monetary restitution, all program fees, and are subject to testing for use of drugs and alcohol. This is an option that is reserved for first-time offenders faced with non-violent crimes. Upon completion, the court may approve the dismissal of the charges.

Importance of Retaining Experienced Legal Counsel

A conviction for retail theft may result in fines, probation, jail time, and other consequences. Those convicted may also encounter problems when subjected to background screening, such as for potential employment or renting a home. It is critical that you retain the services of an attorney that specializes in the practice of criminal defense.

Lawyer Defends Those Accused of Retail Theft

Joseph D. Lento is a seasoned defense attorney who aggressively defends clients in criminal matters in Montgomery County. You are encouraged to contact the office today to discuss the details of your case by calling (888) 535-3686.


[1] http://www.pacourts.us/news-and-statistics/news?Article=981

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