A Pennsylvania Furnace woman was recently arrested by the State College Police after she was allegedly caught stealing less than $30.00 worth of hair care products from a McClanahan's store in downtown State College. In a State College retail theft case, the suspect is generally arrested and transported to the Centre County Correctional Facility for fingerprinting so the officer can run a background check and determine whether or not the person has prior retail theft convictions. The severity of a Pennsylvania charge of retail theft under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3929 is based upon the value of the item or items taken and whether or not the person has prior convictions of retail theft.
Misdemeanor Theft Charge Because of Prior Conviction
In this particular case, a check of a Pennsylvania court database shows that the suspect pleaded guilty to a summary charge of Retail Theft that had been filed by a Patton Township police officer before a State College judge. Because of the prior State College retail theft conviction, the new charge must be filed as a misdemeanor charge. In the case, the officer filed a second degree misdemeanor theft charge, which means that the items that were taken had a value of less than $150.00. While the woman was not taking much in the way of value from the store, the second degree misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of 2 years incarceration and a $5,000.00 fine.
Many people see the maximum sentence that is permitted by law and assume that this woman is not going to jail. The bad news for this woman is that she also has a conviction of a summary offense of Bad Checks and has a pending case with a summary charge of Bad Checks and a misdemeanor charge of Theft by Deception. The woman failed to appear at the preliminary hearing for the Theft by Deception case, so a hearing was held in her absence and a bench warrant was issued. Because of the pending charge and the outstanding warrant, the Bellefonte judge set bail in the new case at $15,000.00 straight. This means that the woman had to post the full $15,000.00 in order to be released from custody. Since the woman didn't have the $15,000.00 on her, she was taken to the Centre County prison. Unless another judge modifies the bail or someone posts the current amount, the woman will remain in jail until her case is resolved via a trial, guilty plea, or dismissal. In this case, jail time has already been served. Given the history of theft-related charges, this woman may be spending some additional time in jail. Hopefully her ways are reformed and she doesn't end up in this position again.
Bail Increased at Preliminary Hearing
When the woman appeared at her preliminary hearing, her Bellefonte criminal defense attorney requested that the woman's bail be modified so that she could be released from the Centre County Correctional Facility. The Centre County Assistant District Attorney handling the prosecution of the case agreed with the defense lawyer that bail should be modified, but the prosecutor requested that the bail be increased to $25,000.00. The Magisterial District Judge accepted the prosecutor's argument and increased the bail. Now, it is even more unlikely that this woman is going to be released from jail during the pretrial phase of her case.