The Consequences of Shoplifting as an Adult in Pennsylvania

Written by bernadette a. safrath
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In Pennsylvania, shoplifting is also called retail theft. An adult who is convicted of retail theft faces incarceration and fines. The judge will impose a sentence based on the level of the offence, as well as the person's previous criminal history.

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Retail Theft

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute 3929(a) defines retail theft as the taking of any merchandise without paying the full retail value required. This can include actually removing merchandise from the store, changing or removing labels and price tags or tampering with security tags. Retail theft is graded in 3929(b) based on the value of stolen merchandise and the accused's criminal history. A first offence, in which the value of stolen merchandise is less than £97, is only a summary offence. Shoplifting is graded as a second-degree misdemeanour if it is the accused's second offence of taking something valued at less than £97. It is a first-degree misdemeanour to shoplift anything with a value of between £97 and £1,300. Shoplifting is a third-degree felony if the accused stole a car or a firearm, stole an item valued at more than £1,300 or committed his third offence.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

If a person is charged with shoplifting, it is his first offence and the item taken was of minimal value, the prosecutor may agree to Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. The accused must plead guilty and will be put on probation for up to two years, required to pay a fine and complete some community service. The benefit of ARD is that if a person completes his community service and does not commit any other crimes during his probation period, the shoplifting conviction will be erased from the person's record.


When a person is convicted of retail theft in Pennsylvania, the judge can order him to pay a fine in accordance with 3929(b)(1.1)(i), (ii) and (iii). The fine owed is based on the level of retail theft the person was convicted of. A first offence brings a fine of between £65 and £162. If a person is convicted of retail theft a second time, the minimum fine increases to £162 and the maximum fine is £325. Three or more retail theft offences require a minimum fine of £325. In addition, a person with three retail theft convictions will also have his driver's licenses for 30 days.


In addition to the monetary penalties, a person can also be incarcerated. If it is only her first offence, a judge can sentence her to a maximum of 90 days in jail. The second offence, a second-degree misdemeanour, carries a sentence of incarceration for up to three years. This sentence is served in prison, as opposed to jail, because the sentence is more than one year. The sentence increases to five years in prison for shoplifting of higher valued items, a first-degree misdemeanour for a first and second offence. Lastly, felony shoplifting carries a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison.

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