Were you recently arrested for shoplifting in West Chester, PA? It may sound like a minor offense, but no theft charges should ever be taken lightly. Shoplifting can land you in jail, subject you to steep fines, and ruin your reputation.
Let DiCindio Law, LLC start fighting for you today. West Chester shoplifting lawyer Mike DiCindio has more than 10+ years of criminal law experience to put behind your defense. And, he’s a former Chester County prosecutor. That provides you with a big advantage. He knows not just how the system works – he knows how the Chester County system works. Clients and colleagues alike have recognized Attorney DiCindio for outstanding professional accomplishments and client service.
How DiCindio Law, LLC Can Help With a Shoplifting Charge in West Chester
If you’re accused of taking something from a store, you need a Chester County criminal defense lawyer who can do everything possible to either get the charges dropped or minimize the penalties. Attorney Mike DiCindio fights every case as if he were fighting for a member of his own family.
When you hire Attorney Mike DiCindio, you can count on him to:
- Get the complete story from you to fully understand what happened
- Carefully analyze all of the evidence that the prosecution intends to use against you
- Look for exculpatory evidence through witness statements, video footage, and alibis
- Negotiate with the prosecutor in advance of trial for possible dismissal or lesser charges
- Present an aggressive defense at trial
Don’t underestimate the seriousness of a shoplifting charge in West Chester, Pennsylvania. We’ve helped hundreds of clients avoid harsh penalties – let us stand up for you, too. Our goal is to provide premium legal representation by being available when you need us, by answering all of your questions honestly, and providing the best possible defense. Call today for your free consultation.
What is a Shoplifting Offense in Pennsylvania?
There isn’t a specific charge for “shoplifting” in Pennsylvania. Generally, what you’d refer to as shoplifting is called “retail theft” under Pennsylvania law. If you’re talking about shoplifting, you’re generally talking about criminal charges for taking items from a store, as opposed to taking items from someone’s home or from a bank.
Under the Pennsylvania criminal code, retail theft means intending to deprive a merchant of possession or full value of merchandise by:
- Taking merchandise from a store without paying for it
- Causing merchandise to be transferred or carried away from a store without paying for it
- Altering, removing, or switching price tags or labels before purchasing items
- Putting items in a different container before purchasing
- Under-ringing merchandise
- Removing or destroying security tags
Depending on the circumstances, you could be facing other criminal charges in addition to retail theft. Make sure you reach out to us as soon as possible if you’re arrested or under investigation so we can help.
Is Shoplifting a Felony in Pennsylvania?
You might be surprised to learn that It could be. Whether your shoplifting offense will be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depends on the value of the merchandise you’re accused of stealing and your prior history of theft.
A shoplifting offense can be a:
- Summary offense when it’s your first offense and the value is less than $150
- Second degree misdemeanor when it’s your second offense and the value is less than $150
- First degree misdemeanor if the value is $150 or more and it’s your first or second offense
- Third-degree felony if it’s your third (or subsequent) offense, regardless of the merchandise value
- Third-degree felony if merchandise is:
- A firearm
- A motor vehicle
- Over $1,000 in value
In cases of theft as part of a “scheme of course of conduct” (such as theft of items from multiple stores or multiple instances of theft from the same store), the value of all of the stolen merchandise may be combined when grading the offense.
Shoplifting may sound like a minor offense, but it’s nothing to mess around with. Call an experienced West Chester criminal defense attorney immediately if you’ve been charged with theft.
What Are the Penalties for Shoplifting in Pennsylvania?
In many cases, judges in Pennsylvania have some discretion in imposing sentences. Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines allow for variation in sentences depending on the severity of the offense (gravity score) and the criminal history of the offender (prior record score).
If you’re convicted of retail theft, depending on how your charge is graded, you could face:
- Summary offense: up to 90 days in jail and up to $300 fine
- Second degree misdemeanor: up to two years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine
- First degree misdemeanor: up to five years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine
- Third degree felony: up to 7 years in jail and up to a $15,000 fine
You could face additional fines if you’re convicted of retail theft that involves stealing motor fuel.
In addition to any other punishment, you could have to pay additional fines as follows:
- First offense: fine between $100 – $250
- Second offense: fine between $250 – $500
- Third or subsequent offense: fine of at least $500 or suspension of your license for 30 days
As in many criminal cases, you could also face a civil lawsuit for damages.
You could also face the following civil penalties for a shoplifting charge:
- Return the merchandise to the plaintiff in its original condition (if possible)
- If it’s not possible to return the merchandise in its original condition, pay the merchant the value of the merchandise as damages
- Pay actual damages from the incident, not to include lost wages of the plaintiff
- Pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees and court costs
- Pay a civil penalty to the merchant equal to the value of the merchandise + $150
Don’t let a shoplifting charge take away your freedom and your reputation. We have years of experience dealing with all types of theft charges. We’ll stand up for your rights and make sure you have a strong defense.
Other Consequences of a Shoplifting Charge in Pennsylvania
If you’re convicted of a crime, there are almost always collateral consequences. As if jail time and fines are bad enough, you could face:
- Losing your license
- Losing your right to own a firearm
- Losing your right to vote
- Difficulty obtaining housing or a job
- Damaged reputation in the community
- A criminal record that follows you around
It’s important to fight your shoplifting charge with everything you have. Let DiCindio Law put the full weight and force of its resources behind your defense.
What Are the Defenses to Shoplifting?
DiCindio Law takes every case seriously and builds a defense strategy to get you the best possible outcome.
After talking with you and conducting a thorough investigation, your defense could include:
- Proof that you were identified
- Showing that police conducted an unlawful arrest
- Uncovering motives to falsely accuse you
- Challenging the value placed on the merchandise
- Finding inconsistencies in witness statements
- You did not intend to take the merchandise (such as you forgot to pay for it or didn’t see it in your cart)
- Someone else placed the merchandise in your possession without your knowledge
- Your Constitutional rights were violated
We will look for everything we can present in your favor, starting with the arrest. If the police didn’t read you your Miranda rights, we’ll fight to get statements thrown out. If the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an illegal search or seizure, we’ll file a motion to exclude evidence from the search. Getting evidence tossed can lead to lesser charges or an outright dismissal of your case, in some instances.
What Should I Do If I’m Arrested for Shoplifting?
If you’re arrested:
- Don’t panic. Call an attorney as soon as you are able. DiCindio Law is always here for you – 24/7/365.
- Do not answer any questions from the police until your lawyer is present. It can be tempting to try to explain yourself, especially if you’re innocent. Resist the urge. As you’ve heard 100 times on TV, anything you say can and will be used against you in court.
- Tell your lawyer everything you know about the circumstances of your arrest. Be completely honest. Try to think of any witnesses or other evidence that could help prove your innocence or help your defense.
The sooner you call for legal advice, the better. Hearings will be scheduled quickly, and the more time your lawyer has to build your defense, the better off you’ll be.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a West Chester Shoplifting Lawyer
Don’t downplay a shoplifting charge in West Chester, PA. You could be looking at up to a third degree felony, depending on the circumstances. Get started building the best possible defense today by getting a West Chester shoplifting attorney at DiCindio Law, LLC on your side.
Attorney Mike DiCindio will give you the same advice he’d give his own family. You can trust him for an honest assessment of your case and an aggressive defense.
Call today for your free consultation. There’s no obligation, so you have nothing to lose.