Any person charged with Retail Theft under Montgomery County Law should contact the criminal defense attorneys at The Martin Law Firm, P.C. Our attorneys represent individuals charged with Retail Theft in Montgomery County, PA and the surrounding counties.
Retail Theft Defined (18 P.S. § 3929)
The Montgomery County Retail Theft statute make it a crime to do any of the following:
- Take possession of, carry away or transfer merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant of the item without paying full retail for it; or
- Alter, transfer or remove labels or price tags and then attempt to pay to purchase the item at less than full retail with the intent of depriving the merchant of the full
value of the item; or
- Transferring any store item from the actual container to another container with the intent to deprive the merchant of the full value of the item; or
- Destroy, remove, or deactivate the control tag or security strip on an item with the intent of depriving the merchant full value of the item.
Common retail theft acts include changing a price tag on an item, causing the cash register to ring up a lower value, removing the anti-theft device or putting items in your purse or stroller.
Retail theft is a summary offense if it is a person’s first offense and the value of the
merchandise is under $150.00. A person could face a maximum fine of $300.00 and 90 days’ imprisonment.
Retail theft is a second degree misdemeanor if it is a second offense and the value of the merchandise is under $150.00. A person could face a maximum fine of $5,000.00 and 2 years’ imprisonment.
Retail theft is a misdemeanor of the first degree when it is a first or second offense and the value is $150.00 or more. A person could face a maximum fine of $10,000.00 and 5 years’ imprisonment.
Retail theft is a felony of the third degree when the offense is a third or subsequent offense, regardless of the value of the merchandise. It is a felony of the third degree when the amount involved is greater than $1,000.00 or if the merchandise is a firearm or a motor vehicle. A person could face a maximum fine of $15,000.00 and 7 years’
Retail Theft Civil Penalties
Under 42 P.S. 8308, a CIVIL action may cause the court to award actual damages to the merchant, return of merchandise, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
Intent is a key element of retail theft in PA. If you are found to be intentionally concealing merchandise either on the premises or outside the premises of the store that has not yet been purchased from a store, there will be a prima facie presumption that you had the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession of the merchandise without paying full value for it.
If the merchant’s employee or another agent of the merchant has probable cause to believe that a retail theft has occurred, then that individual may detain the suspect in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable amount of time to verify the identity of the suspect, investigate whether the suspect has unpurchased merchandise, to recover possession of unpurchased merchandise, and/or contact law enforcement.
All elements of the crime have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a successful prosecution. For example, The Commonwealth of Montgomery County must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual had intent. Intent can be presumed when the merchandise is concealed on the person. The evidence of concealment must be definitive. If goods are not found to be concealed and there is no other evidence of intent, the Commonwealth will often not meet its burden.
There must also be probable cause to conduct a lawful detention and search of an individual. If there is no probable cause, then there will most likely not be a conviction.
Contact The Martin Law Firm, P.C.
Hiring a lawyer who advocates for you will show the officer and the Judge that you are taking this matter seriously and it will increase your chances of a successful outcome. Contact our criminal defense attorneys at 215-646-3980 to discuss the facts and circumstances surrounding the detention and the arrest.