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In Delaware County, shoplifting, or “retail theft” as it is known in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a common type of theft crime.
The Commonwealth’s laws specify punishments from an offense based on both the monetary value of the items stolen, as well as based on the number of prior convictions the defendant has on their record.
If you are charged with shoplifting/retail theft in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, you need an experienced attorney who is experienced in defending shoplifters in Pennsylvania courts.
We can help you explain your story in court. You are not the first person to face shoplifting charges; you may have simply walked out of a store, forgetting to pay for an item. You may have impulsively taken an item, failing to appreciate the repercussions at time. You situation is common, but the details relating to your shoplifting charge are unique.
Pennsylvania Shoplifting Laws Explained
Title 18, chapter 39 of The Pennsylvania Criminal Code provides full detail on the Commonwealth’s retail theft laws.
Here is an overview of the Retail Theft (Shoplifting) Laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
Retail Theft is Committed if You:
Personally transfer, or help to transfer, an item of merchandise located in a retail store, with the intention of taking, using, or benefiting from said item without payment
Remove, replace, or alter a price label/tag on an item of merchandise, with the intent of either taking the item, or paying less than the retail price for the item
Moving an item from a display container into another container, with the intent of taking the item without paying for the item’s retail value
Intentionally ringing up an item for less than the piece of merchandise’s retail value
Manipulating an item’s security tag in order to take a piece of merchandise without paying the full retail value of the item
Concealing an item on your person and leaving a store. Pennsylvania law presumes this has been done in order to shoplift the item
Owners and/or employees of retail stores have the legal right to detain you if you are caught within the premises stealing or attempting to steal merchandise
Tiers of Shoplifting Offenses in Delaware County, Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has several tiers of shoplifting (retail theft) offenses, with varying levels of punishment:
If an item taken is worth less than $150, and it is your first offense, you will be charged with a summary offense
If it is your second offense, and the item is worth under $150, you will be charged with a second degree misdemeanor
If the item has a full retail value of more than $150, and it is your first or second retail theft offense, you will be charged with a first degree misdemeanor
No matter the retail value of the item stolen, a third shoplifting/retail theft offense will be charged as a third degree felony
A shoplifting/retail theft crime in which more than $2000 in merchandise is stolen or if the item stolen is a vehicle or firearm, you will be automatically charged with a third degree felony
What You Need To Do If Charged With A Shoplifting Crime in Delaware County
When confronted by law enforcement, do not argue/get angry with the arresting officer
Wait until an attorney is present before talking with prosecutors/law enforcement
How A Shoplifting Attorney Can Help You If Accused of Retail Theft in Delaware County
When accused of shoplifting/retail theft in Delaware County, it is important to have qualified legal representation to fight for you at your first hearing.
An experienced shoplifting attorney can fight for you from end to end, do as much as possible to discredit evidence, advising you on how to best defend yourself against the charges.
If you ever get summoned to court, you will likely have that hollow pit form in the bottom of your stomach. The prospect of going before a judge can be a bit worrisome, even if you have gone through it before. There are quite a few different charges that can lead you to this point. This includes running through a red light, sending a text message that is considered to be harassing in nature, or shoplifting clothes from the local department store. Whatever the issue might be that has you summoned to Delaware County’s Magisterial District Court, you will likely face a bit of anxiety as the day approaches.
Whenever you get summoned to court, you need to have a professional and experienced attorney from our office with you. It is quite possible that you will have many questions or concerns prior to your appearance. We will be able to answer each one of those for you and help you to put your mind at rest. It might be a criminal case or you may need to answer for a traffic violation that you recently received. We have successfully defended hundreds of clients in the Magisterial District Court of Delaware County, so it will be our pleasure to do the same for you.
Where Do You Need To Go?
It is important to keep in mind that there is more than one Magisterial District Court in the City of Chester. As such, you will want to double check the notice that you received in order to make sure that you go to the right place. If you have any questions about this, you can always consult with your lawyer ahead of time. Keep in mind that the Magisterial District Court is considered to be a minor court that is designed to render decisions on every traffic and non-traffic related citation issued within its boundaries. The court also takes care of most preliminary arraignment and hearings that involve criminal cases, disputes between landlords and tenants, and certain civil cases where the claim is less than $12,000.
Summary Offenses and Criminal Cases
If you have been charged with a summary offense, the lowest possible level of crime in Pennsylvania, then you will need to appear in the Magisterial District Court. Some of the offenses that are included in the category include the following:
Do not make the mistake of thinking that any of charges are not serious. They are. If you are convicted of any of them, the consequences can be severe. You will discover that your hearing is presided over by a magisterial judge who is empowered to administer oaths and to perform marriages.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you will find that your case likely begins with a preliminary hearing in one of the 33 Magisterial District Courts located across Delaware County. After that hearing, most cases will be transferred to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.
Make Sure You Have a Criminal Defense Attorney
You do not want to make an appearance in court on any criminal or traffic-related matter without a professional and experienced lawyer standing right by your side. They can advise you when to refrain from answering a question and they will take a look at the evidence against you. It is their advice that you can lean on to get through this difficult time in your life.