What are the consequences for Retail Theft?

Q: I am being accused of retail theft second offense, misdemeanor 2. How do I get a copy of video surveillance and what is punishment? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: To be charged with a Retail Theft Misdemeanor 2, this would need to be your second offense and the merchandise valued under $150.00. You will have better options if represented by an attorney. To obtain the video prior to your preliminary hearing, will require an attorney as the police nor victim have any duty to let you view it at this stage. The attorney can ask to view it informally, and if necessary, request a subpoena duces tecum be issued by the Magisterial District Justice Office having jurisdiction over the matter. If your case is held for court, you can obtain it through the discovery process after the Formal Arraignment. An attorney can better guide you through this maze.

Can we use video to monitor caretakers for our mother?

Q: My mother has dementia and we have hired bonded, trained, insured caregivers to provide support for her daily needs. We suspect that theft and possible abuse may be occurring. As a deterrent, we would like to install a “very plainly visible” home “video-only” surveillance system. What are the legal requirements of doing so with non-family members regularly in the home?

A: My thoughts are that if they are aware they are being recorded by video, it is not a crime. Have a lawyer draft a release as part of their employment contract. It would basically state that they acknowledge and understand that they are subject to video surveillance and they release you from all civil and criminal liability related to such surveillance.