First time shoplifting in PA is a situation that many people find themselves in each year. Shoplifting in Pennsylvania is also called retail theft or retail fraud. When you face a charge, there are important things to do to protect your future. Our criminal defense attorney team from the Law Offices of Richard Fink explains what you need to know if you face a shoplifting charge in Pennsylvania.
First time shoplifting in PA is a summary offense if the amount involved is less than $150. As the amount of money involved increases, the possible penalties increase, too. For shoplifting that involves items with a very high value, the charges can even be a felony. Even for a summary offense, there is a possibility of up to 90 days in jail. While most offenders do not serve 90 days for a first conviction, there are still important steps to take to address the charges and all of the potential consequences.
For a first-time retail theft charge in Pennsylvania, jail time and fines are only two of the possibilities. If the items cannot be returned, you must pay restitution for the value. In addition, you may be ordered to perform community service. Depending on the local court practices and the circumstances of the offense, you may be ordered to undergo substance abuse testing and treatment.
Some of the consequences of a first time retail theft for Pennsylvania happen immediately when you receive your sentence. However, there may be consequences that follow you throughout your life. A conviction may complicate your attempts to get a job or a professional license. It may make it harder for you to join the military. Be sure to consider all of the short and long-term penalties that can follow you as you determine how to proceed after a conviction.
To fight a first time shoplifting charge, there are options available to you. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can figure out what option is right for you. First, you might qualify to take advantage of deferred adjudication. With deferred adjudication, you plead guilty to the charges. However, after a period of probation, with fines and community service, the conviction is rescinded from your record.
Alternatively, you may be able to secure a pre-trial diversion. In the pre-trial diversion, you receive special status directly from the state prosecutor. You do not have to plead guilty to the charge. After a period of time, typically one year, the charges are dismissed.
There are qualifications for each kind of special dispensation. Your criminal defense attorney can help you determine whether you qualify. In addition, they can help prepare you in order to effectively ask the state attorney to grant you a special resolution to your case. Your criminal defense attorney helps you understand and evaluate all of the possibilities in order to make the right choices for you and your future