If you have been accused of retail theft in Pennsylvania, you may be wondering what to do. As an experienced Pennsylvania retail theft lawyer, I will discuss the penalties for this crime and how to successfully fight a retail theft case. If you are found guilty, you may face fines and jail time. However, there are often programs available to first-time offenders that can ensure you avoid a permanent criminal record.
What Should you do if the Police Charge you with Shoplifting in PA?
It would be best to speak to an experienced PA retail theft attorney as soon as possible. I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals charged with retail theft in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, and the surrounding Pennsylvania Counties.
Pennsylvania Retail Theft Lawyer
I can help explain the charges against you, investigate your case, discuss your legal options, and prepare you for your upcoming court appearance. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
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How to Beat a Retail Theft Case in PA
I will thoroughly examine and investigate the facts of your case to identify any available defenses to contest the charges in court. Common defenses for retail theft charges may include any of the following:
- Mistaken identity
- Lack of intent to commit retail theft
- Inaccurate or unreliable video evidence
- Tainted eyewitness identification
- Insignificant or minor offense
I will also address the most frequently asked questions that arise in a retail theft case.
Retail Store Security Evidence is Often Unreliable
Retail stores often employ loss prevention specialists who actively monitor for shoplifting crimes using video surveillance devices and other security methods. In many cases, the loss prevention employees have a minimal level of experience and are not trained in how to accurately detect and document retail theft crimes.
The security methods and identification procedures used by retail security employees are often unreliable and can be aggressively challenged in court. Despite this, many retail chains will actively pursue criminal prosecutions against any individuals suspected of shoplifting merchandise from their stores.
How is Artificial Intelligence Used in Retail Theft Security?
A growing trend in retail theft prevention is the use of artificial intelligence (AI), which is often referred to as machine intelligence. Most retail stores have AI software added to store security cameras, traditional store registers and self-checkout machines. Additionally, the AI software is programmed to analyze suspicious activity by a shopper based on more than different behavioral cues.
Is AI Retail Theft Technology Always Accurate?
No. In many cases, the AI software will alert store personnel through an app if a shopper demonstrates suspicious activity based on the program’s pre-set algorithm. Unfortunately, the artificial intelligence software is not 100% accurate. As a consequence, the artificial intelligence software does not have the capability to detect human error or other lawful, innocent explanations for suspicious behavior cues.
What is a False Positive Defense to Retail Theft?
A false positive occurs when the self-checkout security system misinterprets innocent customer behavior as possible retail theft. Examples include situations in which the customer has actually scanned and paid all of their items. Other false positives can occur when a customer fails to scan merchandise due to mistake, distraction or confusion. I will review all of the evidence in your case to determine if a human error defense may apply.
What is the Penalty for Retail Theft in PA?
Bucks County CAP Diversion Program for Retail Theft Charges
The Community Accountability Program (CAP) is a pre-trial diversion program available to many first-time offenders charged with retail theft in Bucks County, PA. The program is administered through the Bucks County Magisterial District Courts. The majority of the police departments in Bucks County participate in CAP.
How Does CAP Work?
Participation in CAP must be approved by the police department and the district attorney. The police officer who filed the charges must submit a CAP application to the Bucks County District Attorney for consideration. The district court will notify an applicant if they are admitted into CAP.
Individuals who successfully complete the CAP requirements will have their charges dismissed at the district court level. Successful completion of the CAP requirements will result in the expungement of the retail theft charge. In addition, the court costs for the CAP program are much lower than the court costs imposed on a case resolved in the court of common pleas.
The majority of police departments in Bucks County will offer CAP admission to individuals charged with a summary retail theft offense as well as most misdemeanor retail theft charges. Applicants for the CAP program must reside in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
What are the Conditions of Bucks County CAP?
- 90-150 days of supervision
- Appearance before a community panel
- Waiver of speedy trial rights
- Case proceeds to preliminary if program conditions violated
- Eligible for subsequent ARD if CAP is for a summary offense
I am highly experienced in the CAP application and admissions requirements for retail theft cases. I can determine if your case qualifies for the Bucks County Community Accountability Program.
ARD for Retail Theft in PA
Even if the evidence against you is strong, there are often ways I can prevent the shoplifting charges from resulting in a criminal conviction. Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is a program for 1st-time, non-violent offenders.
The ARD program is available to most individuals facing retail theft charges as a 1st offense. Individuals who complete the ARD program are eligible to have their charges dismissed and their records expunged.
How Does the ARD Application Process Work?
Each district attorney’s office grants admission into the ARD Program at its discretion. Individuals interested in the ARD Program must submit a written application to the county prosecutor’s office.
Each Pennsylvania county has different ARD application deadlines and pre-admission requirements. Most Pennsylvania prosecutors will not offer ARD in cases where the police charge you with a felony retail theft.
I am highly knowledgeable in the specific requirements for ARD admission in Bucks County, Montgomery County, and the surrounding Pennsylvania Counties. I can assist you with the application process and ensure that the district attorney receives the appropriate information about your background and character to give you the best chance of being approved for the program.
Can you Expunge a Retail Theft in PA?
Yes, you are eligible for expungement if your retail theft case falls into one of the following categories:
- You completed the Pennsylvania ARD Program
- The district attorney withdrew the retail theft charge
- Your retail theft charge was graded as a summary offense, and you were convicted (5-year waiting period)
- You completed a district court diversion program
- You were acquitted of retail theft by a judge or jury
- You receive a Governor’s Pardon for your retail theft charge
Individuals who fall into any of the above categories eligible for Pennsylvania criminal record expungement. As a Pennsylvania Criminal Record Expungement Lawyer, I can assist you with the expungement application process if you have successfully completed the ARD program or had your ARD case dismissed for one of the above reasons.
What if I do not Qualify for ARD?
A plea bargain to lesser charges may result in the best resolution of the case when the evidence is strong and admission into the ARD program is not possible. In some cases, I can negotiate with the police and district attorney to reduce the retail theft charges to less serious offenses. A successful plea bargain to reduced charges can often enable an individual to have the charges removed from their record through the expungement process.
In some cases, a negotiated plea agreement in a retail theft case can be structured to ensure that the accused can avoid jail time and the other severe consequences of a conviction. I can review the circumstances and evidence in your case to determine if a plea agreement can be negotiated to produce a successful resolution of your charges.
Start with a Strong Defense
If you have been charged with retail theft in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties, it is critical to act quickly to protect your rights and build the strongest possible defense against the charges. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.