Shoplifting and retail fraud is a $44 billion industry, according to a recent report between the University of Florida and the National Retail Federation. Shoplifting offenses range from stealing a candy bar to stealing expensive jewelry, or even a pet, as this Florida woman learned the hard way. Retail fraud can involve price switching (changing price tags to ring up at a lower price) or shoplifting and attempting to return the items for store credit or cash. Regardless of what and how much is being taken from a store, theft is a very serious offense in the State of Florida, especially for repeat offenders.
Florida Shoplifting & Theft Laws
Most theft crimes fall under the purview of “petit theft” (colloquially known as “petty theft”). A person will be charged with petty theft when the value of the item(s) stolen is between $100 and $300. Petty theft, for a first time offender, is a misdemeanor. Stealing items valued at $300 or more is considered “grand theft” and is a felony. The law categorizes the “degree” of felonies based on the value of the property stolen, ranging from $300-$20,000, with even more stringent punishments being applied after that amount. These punishments and categorizations change depending on whether goods are stolen from a retailer, a person’s house, or whether some other form of personal property has been taken (a car from the street, a cell phone from the gym).
Heightened Theft Crimes
According to Florida law, stealing certain types of items is considered grand theft also, even if the amount of stolen goods does not exceed $300. Stealing the following items is considered grand theft:
- Stop sign
- Motor vehicle
- Farm animal
- Fire extinguisher
- Will, codicil or testamentary document
- Controlled substances
Interestingly, it is also grand theft to steal “any amount of citrus fruit consisting of 2,000 or more individual pieces of fruit” and “anhydrous ammonia,” though most individuals charged with theft crimes steal clothing, food items, or basic needs items. This list demonstrates that stealing something “for fun” can lead to serious consequences—even if you think taking a stop sign down for your college dorm room is a fun thing to do. Stealing any item, whether it be from a local store, big box retailer, or even a friend, can have serious legal consequences.
Hiring an Orlando, Florida Shoplifting Defense Attorney
Most shoplifters are relatively young and generally steal for “fun”, not due to necessity. At Moses & Rooth, we understand that people make mistakes. We will never judge our clients for making a bad call; as former prosecutors, we have seen these cases from both sides of the table, providing us with the insight necessary to navigate your case from start to finish. Our knowledgeable shoplifting defense attorneys understand that you do not deserve one misstep to jeopardize your career or professional reputation. Let us help you keep your shoplifting charges off of your record and minimize the potential damage before it is too late. Contact our Orlando office as soon as you have been charged with theft; we are always available for our clients.