You may need to figure out what to do if the police charge you with retail theft in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, if a judge finds you guilty of shoplifting, you may face fines, court costs, and jail time. As an experienced Pennsylvania retail theft lawyer, I will discuss the penalties for this crime and how to successfully fight a retail theft case. Furthermore, many programs are available to first-time offenders to help them avoid a permanent criminal record.
What Should you do if the Police Charge you with Shoplifting in PA?
You should speak to an experienced PA retail theft attorney as soon as possible. We can set up a consultation, make arrangements to interview witnesses, and take steps to preserve evidence. Also, 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 surrounding Pennsylvania Counties.
Retail Theft Lawyer
Are you trying to locate a qualified and highly-rated shoplifting attorney near me? If so, I can explain the charges against you, investigate your case, discuss your legal options, and prepare you for your upcoming court appearances.
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.
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. The most common legal defenses to retail theft charges may include any of the following:
- Mistaken identity
- Lack of intent to commit retail theft
- Alibi (you can prove you were at a different location at the time of the crime)
- Inaccurate video evidence
- Unreliable eyewitness identification
- Insignificant or minor offense
I also address the most frequently asked questions when the police charge you with retail theft in Bucks County.
Retail Store Security Evidence is Often Unreliable
Retail stores often employ loss prevention specialists who monitor shoplifting crimes using video surveillance devices and other security methods. However, in many cases, the loss prevention employees have minimal security experience.
As a result, store security employees are not trained to accurately detect and document retail theft crimes.
Store loss prevention employees are not trained to accurately identify persons committing shoplifting crimes. Despite this, many retail chains will actively pursue criminal prosecutions against innocent individuals suspected of shoplifting merchandise from their stores.
How to Beat a Self Checkout Theft Charge
A growing trend in retail theft prevention is using artificial intelligence (AI), often referred to as machine intelligence. Furthermore, 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. The AI software will often alert store personnel through an app if a shopper demonstrates suspicious activity based on the program’s pre-set algorithm. Unfortunately, artificial intelligence software is not 100% accurate. Consequently, artificial intelligence software does not 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 where the customer has actually scanned and paid for all their items.
Also, other false positives can occur when a customer fails to scan merchandise due to a mistake, distraction, or confusion. Under the circumstances, you may have a complete defense to the shoplifting charges.
I will review all of the evidence in your case to determine if a human error defense may apply.
Retail Theft PA
As the display on the chart indicates, PA retail theft sentencing guidelines will vary depending on the value of the merchandise taken, the type of item involved, and the number of prior shoplifting convictions you have.
First Offense Retail Theft in PA
Fortunately, most people charged by the police with a first offense shoplifting case can avoid a conviction and permanent criminal record. Each Pennsylvania County district attorney offers different court diversion programs depending on the circumstances of the case. In addition, I can get many shoplifting cases dismissed at the district court without the district attorney’s involvement.
In many situations, the district court judge will dismiss the charges after the person participates in a community panel, completes community service, and pays court costs. In addition, the accused must pay any restitution to the store before the case is dismissed and expunged.
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 district attorney implemented the CAP program primarily for low-level drug possession offenses.
However, persons charged with summary retail theft are also eligible for admission into CAP. The Bucks County Magisterial District Courts administer the program. Also, the majority of the police departments in Bucks County participate in CAP.
How Does CAP Work?
The police department and district attorney must approve participation in CAP. The police officer who filed the charges must submit a CAP application to the Bucks County District Attorney for consideration. Finally, the district court will notify you if you are admitted into CAP.
Avoid a Criminal Record through CAP
Individuals who successfully complete the CAP requirements will have their charges dismissed at the district court level. Therefore, successfully completing 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 those imposed on a case resolved in the court of common pleas.
What are the Conditions of Bucks County CAP?
- You are required to appear before a community panel
- You must complete all of the panel’s recommendations
- You must waive your right to a speedy trial
- The court will reschedule your case for a preliminary hearing if you violate the program conditions
- You are eligible for ARD for a subsequent case if CAP is for a summary offense
I am highly experienced in the CAP application and admissions requirements for retail theft cases. Furthermore, I can determine if your case qualifies for the Bucks County Community Accountability Program. Read more about the CAP program on the Bucks County Drug Possession Diversion Programs Page.
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. For example, 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.
Unlike district court diversion programs, placement on ARD takes place in the court of common pleas of the county where the offense occurred.
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. Unfortunately, most Pennsylvania prosecutors will not offer ARD in cases where the police charge you with a felony retail theft. I answer common questions in the Pennsylvania ARD Program Questions page.
I am highly knowledgeable in the requirements for ARD admission in Bucks County, Montgomery County, and the surrounding Pennsylvania Counties. Therefore, I can assist you with the application process and ensure that the district attorney receives the appropriate information about your background and character for the ARD review process.
Above all, I am one of Pennsylvania’s most experienced shoplifting lawyers. Therefore, I can give you the best chance of being approved for the program. Read more about ARD on the Pennsylvania ARD Lawyer page.
How to Get Retail Theft Expunged in PA
Individuals who fall into the above categories are eligible for Pennsylvania criminal record expungement. As a Pennsylvania Criminal Record Expungement Lawyer, I can assist you with the expungement application process.
What if I do not Qualify for ARD?
Suppose the district attorney denies your ARD application. In that case, a plea bargain to reduced charges is usually the next best option to resolve your charges, especially if the prosecutor’s evidence is strong.
Frequently, I negotiate with the police and district attorney to reduce the retail theft charges to less serious offenses. In addition, a person who accepts a plea bargain for lesser crimes will be able to remove their retail theft case from their record through the expungement process.
In some cases, I will structure the negotiated plea agreement so that you can avoid going to jail. In addition, I can review the circumstances and evidence in your case to determine if a plea agreement can be negotiated to resolve your charges successfully.
Retail Theft Attorney
Have the police charged you with retail theft? You immediately begin searching for retail theft lawyers near me. Fortunately, my retail theft defense practice covers Montgomery County, Bucks County, Philadelphia County, Delaware County, Chester County, and other suburban counties. Acting quickly to hire a lawyer to protect your rights and build the most vigorous possible retail theft defense is critical.
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.