The following release was sent in to Patch by Pennsylvania State Rep. Tom Quigley about a new bill that he supported. Quigley told Patch:
"This is a bill that closes a loophole in the retail theft law. This issue was brought to my attention by the Limerick Police Chief, Bill Albany, as a result of what his officers have encountered when dealing with retail theft issues at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets."
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today approved legislation authored by Rep. Tom Quigley (R-Montgomery) that would grade repeat violations of retail theft with greater severity for individuals who have completed an Accelerated Rehabilitation Program (ARD).
“The ARD program cannot be used as a shield for repeat offenders,” said Quigley. “It is a very worthy program that helps people who genuinely made a one-time mistake, but the Legislature must close the loophole that is allowing repeat wrongdoers to be charged with multiple first offenses.”
Quigley’s legislation is in reaction to the case of Commonwealth v. Graeff, in which the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that because the definition of second offense in the retail theft statute did not include participation in ARD, a subsequent offense must be considered another first offense.
House Bill 1603 would correct this multiple first offense loophole, allowing prosecutors to charge defendants who participated in ARD but continue to break Pennsylvania’s retail theft law with a second-degree misdemeanor.
“This is an important bill that closes a loophole in the law which allows second-time retail theft offenders to receive a more lenient sentence reserved for first-time offenders. I would like to thank Representative Quigley for the expeditious manner in which he addressed this issue after it was brought to his attention by detectives,” said Limerick Township Chief of Police William J. Albany.
“House Bill 1603 is consistent with the manner in which our laws handle multiple DUI offenders who have completed ARD,” said Quigley. “Enacting this measure will send the message that Pennsylvania will not tolerate continued and unabashed retail theft. Its cost to our businesses and society is too high.”
The legislation, which was approved by a vote of 178-20, will now go before the Senate for its consideration.