Florida Shoplifting Charges Are More Serious Than You Think
Between inflation and the holidays, there are many Floridians who are feeling the financial strains as they look at prices on food, necessities, and gifts. The temptation to grab an item off the shelf and put it in your pocket is strong, especially when you think the loss to the store is minimal. However, you may be shocked to find that the Florida statute on shoplifting is extremely strict and harsh on offenders. It is also surprising to learn the types of conduct that constitute retail theft, which are acts some people do not associate with shoplifting.
Retail theft is often charged as a felony, which means a long jail sentence and steep fines if you are convicted. Therefore, a powerful defense strategy is essential if you or someone you know is facing shoplifting charges. Retaining a Florida criminal defense lawyer should be your first priority, since there are many opportunities to fight the charges during the legal process. An overview of the laws is useful for understanding what to expect.
Summary of Florida Shoplifting Laws: The relevant statute falls under state theft laws, which cover a wide range of conduct in which a person misappropriates property belonging to someone else. The shoplifting statute prohibits a person from depriving a merchant of the possession, use, and value of its merchandise. Specific unlawful acts include intentionally:
- Taking possession of items, money, or negotiable instruments like checks;
- Altering or removing a price tag, UPC label, or related markers on merchandise, with the objective of getting the item for a lower cost;
- Transferring items from one bin to another to obtain better pricing; and,
- Removing a shopping cart from the merchant’s premises.
As you can see, a person could be arrested for retail theft without even removing the merchandise from the store.
Penalties for a Retail Theft Conviction in Florida: Theft offenses are typically categorized by the value of the property that was misappropriated, and the shoplifting law operates accordingly. Determining the value is relatively straightforward because it is the price tag on the item that was stolen. Retail theft is charged as follows:
- It is a Third Degree Felony when someone steals more than $750 worth of merchandise or other items of value from a merchant. If convicted, you face up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Second Degree Felony charges apply to shoplifting items in excess of $3,000. A conviction could mean up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
If someone shoplifts merchandise valued at less than $750, law enforcement will typically charge the offender under general theft laws. The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail.
Trust a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney to Protect Your Rights
For additional information about shoplifting charges and potential defenses, please contact Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. You can call 561-626-8880 or visit us online to reach our officers in Jupiter, FL. Once we review your case, a criminal defense lawyer will advise you on how the legal process works.