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What is a criminal charge of "organized retail theft"?

Many Pennsylvania residents might associate the word "theft" with someone simply taking something that does not belong to them. That could be an article of clothing, a motor vehicle, electronic equipment and just about anything else. If a person faces allegations of committing theft, there will be charges and penalties that can be serious if the value of the item that was taken reaches a certain level. Another aspect of theft is "organized retail theft." Understanding this specific law and the potential consequences for a conviction is an integral part of an effective criminal defense.

There will be a charge of organized retail theft if there is an individual who is behind the coordination, organization, supervisory, controlling, financial and management of an enterprise that commits these acts. The value of that which was taken as part of this enterprise will determine the severity of the charges. If the merchandise that was stolen is worth a minimum of $5,000, but its value does not surpass $19,999, it will be a third-degree felony. A conviction will lead to incarceration of up to seven years. If the value of that which was taken is a minimum of $20,000, it will be a second-degree felony. The penalties can include incarceration for up to 10 years.

To be considered an organized retail theft enterprise, it must be a partnership, corporation or another form of association that is run for the sake of violating the law for receiving stolen property or committing retail theft. This can be a legally formed entity or not. When the retail value is determined, it is based on the advertised price issued by the merchant from whom the property was stolen. If it cannot be linked to a specific merchant, the price will be based on other merchants in the area.

Retail is big business, especially during the holiday season and for those who are confronted with allegations that they took part in or ran an organized retail theft enterprise, the penalties can be severe if there is a conviction on state charges related to theft.

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