Are You Facing A Retail Theft Crime? Learn More About The Consequences Of Shoplifting In Florida.
When people think of shoplifting, many think of it as a minor crime. The State of Florida however takes this theft crime very seriously and you should expect the consequences of shoplifting to have a major impact. If you are convicted, a criminal record for theft is considered a crime of dishonesty and therefore can have a huge impact on your life; it can make it difficult to get a job, housing, or loan at a later date. The charges can quickly escalate depending on the value of the stolen goods or if this is not your first arrest – even smaller dollar amounts can result in a felony after a third arrest for theft and that impacts many other aspects of your life.
In Florida, an attempted theft is still considered a complete theft – even returning goods after a change of heart can result in a retail theft charge.
Is Retail Theft The Same As Shoplifting?
Retail Theft under Florida Law is “…the taking possession of or carrying away of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents; altering or removing a label, universal product code, or price tag; transferring merchandise from one container to another; or removing a shopping cart, with intent to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value.” F.S. 812.015(1)(d).
This means that you can even be charged with shoplifting or “retail theft” if labels or tags are altered and if merchandise is transferred from one container to another. Possession of countermeasures to anti-shoplifting devices are also considered unlawful.
Can I Wind Up In Jail From Shoplifting?
The consequences of shoplifting charges in Florida can result in fines, probation, loss of driving privileges, time in jail and even land you in state prison. Under the Florida Statutes, the penalty for shoplifting depends on the value of the merchandise that is alleged to have been stolen. Typically for property valued below $100.00, a defendant can be charged with petit theft, a second-degree misdemeanor. This misdemeanor could put someone convicted of the crime with up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500.00 fine. These penalties increase with higher value stolen property and with subsequent convictions. For example, if the value of the stolen goods exceed $300, you are entering potential felony territory which comes with fines of up to $5000 and a potential sentence of up to five years in state prison.
In addition to criminal charges for shoplifting, alleged offenders can also be subject to civil claims by retail establishments. These civil claims can include collection of the value of goods and penalties that go to the retailer pursuing civil charges.
As you can see, this “minor” crime can add up to a lot of landmines for you to avoid; you need a criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the criminal justice system, understand the charges against you and protect your rights. With experience as both a prosecutor and a defender, William B. Bennett will use his expertise to help craft the strongest possible defense and will work tirelessly to ensure that your rights and your freedom are being protected. Call us at (727) 821-8000 or contact us on our website here so that we may advocate for you.