What to do if Your Child is Charged With Retail Theft

What is Retail Theft?

In Pennsylvania, shoplifting is also known as retail theft. Under the law, retail theft includes walking out of a store with an item without paying for it, transferring merchandise without paying the full value, using merchandise without paying the full value, altering or removing price tags, removing or destroying anti-theft tags, ringing up items as a lesser value for friends as an employee, and transferring merchandise to a different container with the intent of not paying full price.

What Happens After an Arrest for Retail Theft?

It is important to note that a store owner or employee has the right to stop your child to check for stolen items if there is probable cause to suspect shoplifting. If you child is 16 years old or older when accused of retail theft, the law in Pennsylvania requires that he or she submit to fingerprinting for the criminal system. Unlike most other crimes in Pennsylvania, a minor can receive an adult conviction for the crime of retail theft. This is because a first offense for this crime is considered a summary offense, which can only be handled in adult court. If convicted, your child would have an adult criminal record for retail theft.

Retail theft is also one of the “stacking crimes” in Pennsylvania law, which means that for every subsequent charge, the penalties increase in severity. Even if your child was a minor when the first offense took place, a second offense as an adult does not start the penalties over. It will be treated as a second offense regardless of when the first conviction took place.

What Should You do?

First and foremost, your child should not admit or confess to shoplifting the item to the store employee or to the police. Call a criminal defense attorney in your area with experience handling retail theft charges to handle the case. The lawyer will speak with the police and the prosecution to determine the seriousness of the crime as well as review the evidence of the case and speak with your child about what happened. Based on the strength of the evidence, your lawyer may be able to get the charges reduced or dropped altogether against your child. If not, your lawyer can handle the preparations of the case and argue in court on your child’s behalf.

Call or Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If your child has been arrested for retail theft in Pennsylvania, it is important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Call or contact the Martin Law Firm today to discuss your legal options.

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