Shoplifting is often committed on the spur of the moment, without forethought and without consideration of possible consequences. When shoplifting charges are leveled, alleged offenders are left wondering what to do, who can help and what legal penalties they may face.
The shoplifting of goods valued at $300 or less is a misdemeanor offense. The shoplifting of goods valued at $300 or more is a felony offense, which can result in harsh penalties, including jail time, fines and community service. Both misdemeanor and felony shoplifting charges can also result in driver’s license suspension.
Regardless of the options available to you based on the level of your theft charge and the number of prior offenses, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can manage your claim and advocate for your rights. At the Orlando, Florida criminal defense law firm of Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law, we have handled numerous shoplifting cases and have successfully helped keep clients’ records clean and keep clients out of jail through:
- The dismissal and reduction of charges
- Successful court trials
- Diversion program
- The withholding of adjudication
- Community service
- Rehabilitation, therapy, and counseling
- Restitution (repayment)
- House arrest and electronic monitoring
Many of our clients are kids from local high schools who steal minor items from Target and other big box stores. Other clients are tourists from other states visiting Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Epcot Center, and MGM Studios. In many instances, we can appear at hearings for out-of-state clients so that they don’t need to return to Florida. For a no-charge consultation with an experienced theft offense attorney, contact our Orlando or New Smyrna Beach office.
What Should I Do If I Was Arrested for Shoplifting?
If you or your family member was arrested for shoplifting, it is imperative that you take immediate action to protect yourself or to protect your loved one. To start, avoid making a statement to law enforcement. Defendants have a constitutional right to remain silent. Remember, the police are trying to build a case against you.
Beyond that, you should try to gather or record any potential exonerating evidence that can be used to build your defense. Finally, you should contact an Orlando shoplifting lawyer as soon as possible. Never plead guilty to a theft offense — even a misdemeanor shoplifting charge — without first speaking to an attorney.
What are the Penalties for Shoplifting in Central Florida?
Notably, under Florida law (Florida Statute § 812.015(1)(d)), shoplifting is officially referred to as ‘retail theft’. The penalties for ‘retail theft’ in Florida vary based on specific facts of the case. By far, the most important factor is the alleged value of the items that were ‘shoplifted’.
If the total value of retail theft is deemed to be more than $300 — which is not a very high threshold given the price of most merchandise in shops in Central Florida — a defendant can be charged with grand theft. Grand theft is a third-degree felony offense that carries the potential of significant jail time. In other words, if you are charged with retail theft of more than $300, you could be convicted of a felony and sentenced to prison.
Are There Different Rules for Minors Charged With Shoplifting?
Many shoplifting cases involve allegations being raised against minors. In Florida, the juvenile justice system puts a much stronger emphasis on rehabilitation versus punishment. For juvenile offenders, there are more options available to avoid the long-term impact of a conviction or criminal record.
That being said, juvenile shoplifting is not a minor issue — especially if your child is alleged to have taken more than $300 in total merchandise. Do not let a youthful indiscretion harm your child’s future. Contact a juvenile criminal defense attorney in Orlando, FL at Moses & Rooth who has experience handling theft charges and shoplifting cases.
How Can an Orlando, FL Shoplifting Lawyer Help?
Every shoplifting case is different. In some cases, defendants face wholly unfair charges based on a misunderstanding. In other cases, defendants need to find a way to protect themselves after making a mistake. At Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, our Orlando shoplifting defense lawyers provide diligent, effective legal representation for defendants. Among other things, our law firm will:
- Review the retail theft charges;
- Explain your rights/options;
- Investigate the case;
- Review the prosecution’s evidence;
- Build a compelling legal defense; and
- If appropriate, work with prosecutors on a plea agreement.
We are always prepared to fight aggressively to protect the rights of our clients. Unfair charges should be dismissed immediately. At the same time, if the prosecution has a strong case, we are also ready to help our clients find a plea agreement that keeps them out of jail and protects their future. A shoplifting accusation should not ruin your life.