Retail Theft Defense Lawyers Erie, Pennsylvania

Resourceful Defense Attorneys in Pennsylvania Provide Compassionate Advice to Clients Accused of Retail Theft

Conviction for retail theft can carry consequences that are much more serious than you may initially believe. In some professions, you may be required to disclose any criminal convictions or arrests for theft-related crimes, and a conviction will go on your permanent record—which is accessible by potential employers. You can face jail time even if this is your first offense, and even if the stolen property had a relatively low value.

After being accused of, or arrested for, retail theft, you may be feeling embarrassed or afraid of the potential consequences that conviction could bring—but this is no excuse to delay retaining experienced legal counsel to build a strong defense in your case. At Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C., we have the experience necessary to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Our skilled criminal defense lawyers have successfully represented hundreds of clients and fight for our clients’ rights behind the scenes and in court on a daily basis.

Defining Retail Theft Under Pennsylvania Law

18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Sec. 3929 defines retail theft to include a variety of different circumstances where the defendant has attempted to obtain merchandise without paying the full retail value. You can be convicted for retail theft in circumstances where you:

  • Somehow take possession of, or remove or transfer, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by a store or retail establishment with the intent of depriving the store owner of the possession, use or benefit of the merchandise without paying the full retail value of the item,
  • Remove or change any labels, price tags or other indication of value on the merchandise, and attempt to purchase that merchandise at a lower price,
  • Transfer the item from one container into another in an attempt to pay less than the full retail price of the item,
  • Under-ring merchandise with the intent of depriving the merchant of full retail value,
  • Destroy inventory control tags or security devices attached to any merchandise item, with the intent of depriving the merchant of the full retail value of the item.

Penalties for Retail Theft in Pennsylvania Depend Upon Value and Past Criminal Record

The criminal penalties that attach when you have been convicted for retail theft depend upon the value of the merchandise that was stolen and your past criminal history of retail theft, as follows:

  • Value under $150. For first offenders, retail theft at this level is a summary offense punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a maximum $300 fine. For second offenders, the crime is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
  • Value of $150 or more, but less than $1,000. For first and second offenses, the crime is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Value of $1,000 or more. If the item was valued at $1,000 or more, the crime is a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
  • Third and subsequent offenders. Regardless of the property value, a third or subsequent conviction for retail theft in Pennsylvania is charged as a third-degree felony, and could result in up to $15,000 in fines and seven years in prison.

Defense Lawyers at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. Determined to Defend Clients Accused of Retail Theft in PA

Intent is an important element to establishing guilt in a retail theft case in Pennsylvania, but the prosecution is entitled to presume that you intended to steal the item if you have somehow concealed the merchandise, even if you are still in the store. Our lawyers can explore the potential defense of lack of intent, and will fight to show that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof in proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Potential defense strategies for retail theft charges include, but are not limited to:

  • Violation of your constitutional rights, including in cases where you were detained by store employees without probable cause,
  • Law enforcement’s failure to read your Miranda rights upon arrest,
  • Lack of evidence,
  • Lack of intent.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation to Discuss Your Erie, PA Retail Theft Defense Strategy Today

Call our offices or fill out this online form, to schedule a confidential consultation with our experienced retail theft defense lawyers today. For your convenience, we have three office locations located at 2525 W.26th St., Erie, PA 16506, 310 Chestnut St., Suite 111, Meadville, PA 16335 (in the Masonic Building) and 68 East Main Street, North East, PA 16428.

Frequently Asked Questions About Retail Theft

FAQ: If I am guilty of retail theft, are there any available options that can help me avoid having a criminal record for the future?

If this is your first offense, and you are guilty of retail theft, we may be able to explore whether Pennsylvania accelerated rehabilitation disposition (ARD) program can provide a viable option. ARD is essentially a form of probation that allows you to complete your punishment while avoiding formal prosecution and conviction for retail theft. ARD is not available to every single defendant, so contact our offices today for more detailed information about whether ARD may be an option in your case.

FAQ: Can I have a conviction for retail theft expunged from my criminal record?

Yes, expungement is available for retail theft convictions under Pennsylvania’s new expungement law. The requirements for obtaining the expungement can vary, but if you were convicted as an adult, you can generally have the retail theft conviction expunged after ten years have passed from the date of conviction, or the date when you completed your jail sentence, probation or parole (whichever is later) with no additional arrests or prosecutions. The retail theft must have also been charged as a misdemeanor, or offense with a maximum penalty of two years in jail. Contact our lawyers for more information on how and when an expungement for retail theft may be available under Pennsylvania’s new law.

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Client’s husband was killed in a motorcycle accident caused by a careless driver. His underinsured motorist carrier originally denied coverage, based on a policy exclusion, and then offered only half the coverage.

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Late at night, a driver turned right at a stop light and crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic. His BAC was over the legal limit. He was charged with DUI, a lane violation and careless driving.

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An instructor at a local high school was accused by a student of indecent assault on the last day of school. After four days of trial, the jury acquitted the instructor of all charges.


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  • "There aren't enough words to express how elated we are with the end results Attorney Tim George delivered, he went above and beyond our expectations. Attorney George was always prompt in returning phone calls, straight forward about the facts and extremely empathetic with the horrible situation that our son was facing."

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  • "Craig Murphey handled my personal injury claim. He was extremely professional, but also took a personal interest in helping me through a very difficult process. Everyone in the Purchase, George & Murphey office was very kind and helpful. I would recommend Craig Murphey’s services to anyone who might find themselves in need of a top-notch lawyer."

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Mr. George and his entire office staff were very kind and helping me through my first ever experience with the law. He was able to get me exactly what he said he would in the outcome of my trial. The entire staff was very informative and kept me up to date on everything. Very pleased with my experience and would most definately recommend him to others.

Allison, July 8, 2017