Shoplifting Attorneys in Pennsylvania

Rear view of man being handcuffed

Shoplifting may not seem like a serious offense, however, being convicted of any crime can have a negative impact on all aspects of your life. At Gross McGinley, LLP, our attorneys in Pennsylvania help clients understand the charges they may be facing and work to mitigate the impact of retail theft charges. Our shopfitting attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights and working toward the best possible outcome for your case.

What to know about shoplifting charges:

How is shoplifting defined in Pennsylvania?

What types of shoplifting charges could I face?

What are the penalties for shoplifting in Pennsylvania?

What are some common defenses for shoplifting charges?

What is an ARD program?

Can a criminal defense attorney at Gross McGinley, LLP, negotiate a plea agreement?

What’s involved in taking a shoplifting case to trial?

How do defense attorneys establish reasonable doubt?

How does sentencing work in Pennsylvania?

Is it possible to appeal a guilty verdict in a shoplifting case?

How can the criminal defense team at Gross McGinley, LLP, help with my case?



What Is Shoplifting?

Under Pennsylvania law, shoplifting is considered retail theft. This offense may involve taking merchandise from a store without paying for it, altering price tags to pay a lower price, removing items from their original packaging and placing them in another container to purchase it at a lower cost, or removing, destroying, or tampering with security tags. Employees of a store may also be charged with retail theft if they intentionally ring up merchandise for less than its retail price.



Grading of Retail Theft Offenses in Pennsylvania

If someone has never been charged with retail theft before and the merchandise is worth less than $150, it is considered a summary offense, which is the most minor type of criminal offense in Pennsylvania. For a second offense involving merchandise worth less than $150, you may be charged with a misdemeanor of the second degree.

If merchandise is valued at $150 or more and it is your first or second offense, you may face first-degree misdemeanor theft charges. For third or subsequent offenses, you may be charged with a felony of the third degree, regardless of how much the merchandise is worth. If the value of the items exceeds $1,000 or the merchandise is a motor vehicle or firearm, you likely will face third-degree felony charges, even if it is your first theft offense.

When determining which grade of crime to charge, prosecutors may use the combined value of merchandise stolen in one scheme or in multiple thefts from one store or more. The court also will consider similar convictions and prior offenses in Pennsylvania and other states.

Both misdemeanor and felony charges come with serious consequences and can affect your reputation, freedom, and future. Our criminal defense attorneys are well-versed in shoplifting laws in Pennsylvania. If you or someone you know is alleged to have been caught shoplifting, we know how to develop effective defense strategies and work to get charges reduced or dismissed.



Penalties for Retail Theft in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a summary offense can result in up to $1,500 in fines and three months in jail.

A second-degree misdemeanor conviction can result in up to $5,000 in fines and 12 months in jail.

If convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor, you may face up to a $10,000 fine and 18 months in jail.

A conviction for a third-degree felony is punishable by up to $15,000 in fines and three years in prison.

If you’re convicted of stealing gasoline, you may face additional fines of up to $100 to $250 for the first offense, $250 to $500 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense. Your Pennsylvania driver’s license also may be suspended for 30 days.

If threats or violence were used to commit a retail theft, you may face robbery charges, which are felonies that come with much harsher penalties.

Understanding the charges against you and their possible penalties can be overwhelming. Our shoplifting attorneys explain the law and potential outcomes in straightforward language that’s easy to understand. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the legal process every step of the way.



Potential Defenses for Shoplifting in Pennsylvania

Defending retail theft charges can be challenging. That’s why it’s vital to have an experienced shoplifting attorney who can determine which defense approach may be the most effective in your case. One of the most common defenses for retail theft is mistake of fact, which generally means you believed you paid for merchandise before leaving a store.

Lack of criminal intent is a defense that can be viable in a shoplifting case. For example, if you absentmindedly put an item in your pocket and forget to pay for it or accidentally miss ringing up an item at the self-checkout, lack of criminal intent could be a valid defense. In some cases, mistaken identity can be an effective defense, especially if you have a solid alibi that proves you were somewhere else when the theft occurred.

Our criminal defense attorneys develop strategies based on the specific circumstances of your case. We carefully review all evidence such as video surveillance footage, documentation of merchandise that was allegedly taken, and eyewitness accounts of what happened. If the evidence is weak or was improperly handled, charges may be dropped or reduced.

If you believe the police violated your rights or failed to follow proper procedure in any way, make sure to tell your defense attorney. Issues like illegal search and seizure or failing to read a suspect their Miranda rights can lead to charges being thrown out.



Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition Program (ARD) for Retail Theft

A first-time offender facing theft charges may be eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition Program (ARD) program, which allows them to avoid a criminal conviction on their record if they successfully complete all requirements. ARD usually involves community service, counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, and payment of court costs, fines, and restitution. When the ARD program is completed, charges are dismissed and can be expunged from the person’s criminal record.

It’s important to keep in mind that the prosecutor in the county where you’ve been charged has the sole discretion as to whether someone is eligible for an accelerated rehabilitation disposition program.

In addition, your record may not be automatically expunged when your ARD program is successfully completed. A shoplifting attorney can help you apply for the ARD program, ensure you understand the requirements, and assist you with the expungement process.



Negotiating a Plea Bargain for Shoplifting in Pennsylvania

A plea bargain is a negotiated agreement between the defendant and prosecution. Usually, a plea agreement allows you to plead guilty or no contest to a lesser charge and results in a more lenient sentence than you may face if you’re found guilty at trial. Although a plea bargain can enable you to avoid a costly trial and may be the best option to preserve your freedom, it’s vital to understand that you still will have a criminal record, which can impact your standing in the community and your ability to find employment and housing.

Our criminal defense lawyers are seasoned negotiators who are familiar with local prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement. We help you understand the advantages and drawbacks of negotiating a plea deal vs. going to trial, so you can make informed decisions about your case.



Taking Your Shoplifting Case to Trial

Having an experienced shoplifting attorney in your corner is essential if your case goes to trial. Our team investigates and gathers evidence and develops a cohesive defense to present in court. We thoroughly prepare you and any witnesses for trial. However, as a defendant, you are not required to testify. Presenting compelling evidence, along with convincing opening and closing arguments, are other key elements of creating a solid defense at trial.



Establishing Reasonable Doubt

The prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. To establish reasonable doubt, your defense attorney may shine a light on holes in the prosecution’s case, challenge the evidence against you, and use cross-examination strategies that cast doubt on witnesses’ testimony. In some cases, a shoplifting lawyer may call expert witnesses to the stand to dispute the validity of the prosecution’s evidence.

Each case is unique. The way we approach your case in the courtroom involves various factors and depends on the specific circumstances. Our shoplifting attorneys have the resources, knowledge, and experience required to present a strong defense and work toward the best possible outcome – a verdict of not guilty.



Sentencing in Shoplifting Cases

In Pennsylvania, a judge typically determines penalties and sentencing for retail theft convictions. Mitigating factors such as lack of a prior criminal record, addiction issues, and other influences can have an impact on sentencing. Our criminal defense lawyers understand how to present compelling arguments to a judge and work to help you obtain a less severe sentence. In shoplifting cases, this could mean the difference between doing jail time and being on probation.




Although appealing a retail theft conviction is rare, it may be worth it if there were significant issues with your trial and conviction. The appeals process in Pennsylvania is complex, and you must present proper grounds to file an appeal. Our criminal defense attorneys are well-versed in establishing grounds for an appeal and ensure all important deadlines and legal requirements are met.



Why Choose Our Criminal Defense Lawyers?

At Gross McGinley, LLP, the attorneys and staff on our criminal defense team come from diverse legal backgrounds and share a wealth of experience and knowledge. From former prosecutors to seasoned federal defense attorneys, our lawyers collaborate to develop creative defense strategies that get results.

We believe everyone deserves a top-notch defense, no matter what type of charges they’re facing. Our team is dedicated to providing compassionate, purposeful legal representation without judgment. Our clients-first philosophy and commitment to providing forward-thinking legal representation with integrity and respect have helped us build a solid reputation in the Pennsylvania legal community over the last four decades.



Contact a Shoplifting Attorney in Pennsylvania

At Gross McGinley, LLP, we care about our clients and their families. Facing shoplifting charges in Pennsylvania is daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. If you or a loved one is facing retail theft charges, our skilled team can help. We provide a wide range of legal services, including criminal defense, family law, business law, litigation, estate planning, business and employment law, real estate, and more.

Contact us or call us at 610-820-5450 to schedule a consultation with a shoplifting attorney in Pennsylvania today.

Shoplifting Attorneys in Pennsylvania Team

View Profile

Andrea Figueroa


    Have questions? Need to speak to someone about your legal needs? We're here to help.

    I agree to receive electronic marketing communications from Gross McGinley, LLP.