Many people believe that shoplifting is a minor inconsequential crime that is not taken very seriously by the justice system. However, shoplifting is a form of theft; and depending on the amount stolen, those convicted of shoplifting face significant consequences. While the consequences for shoplifting may seem minor compared to more serious crimes, the consequences of a shoplifting charge/conviction may affect the life of the accused for a lifetime.
What is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is known as retail theft under Florida law. Retail theft occurs when a person:
- Takes possession of or carries away the property of a merchant;
- Alters labels or price tags;
- Transfers merchandise from one container to another; or
- Removes a shopping cart; with
- Intent to deprive a merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value.
Merchants who suspect a person is shoplifting may detain the person in a reasonable manner for a reasonable amount of time in an effort to retrieve the merchandise and prosecute the suspect.
Punishment for Shoplifting
The consequences and penalties for shoplifting under Florida law depend on the value of the items:
- First Degree Grand Theft: if the items stolen are worth $100,000 or more, then the charge may be First Degree Grand Theft. This is a first-degree felony that has a maximum penalty of thirty years in prison and fines totaling $10,000.
- Second Degree Grand Theft: if the items stolen are worth between $20,000 and $99,999, then the accused will be changed with Second Degree Grand Theft. This is a second-degree felony that has a maximum penalty of fifteen years in prison and fines totaling $10,000.
- 3rd Degree Grand Theft: if the stolen items are worth between $300 and $19,999, then the accused will be changed with Third Degree Grand Theft. This is a third degree felony that has a maximum penalty of five years in jail and fines totaling $5,000. If the items stoles are a firearm, car, live stock, 2,000 or more pieces of fruit, a traffic sign or construction signs.
- First Degree Petit Theft: if the stolen items are worth between $100 and $299, then the accused will be charged with First Degree Petit Theft. This is a first-degree misdemeanor that has a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, if the accused was previously convicted twice of any theft crime, then the charge will be a third degree felony.
- Second Degree Petit Theft: if the stolen items are worth less than $100, then the accused will be charged with a Second Degree Misdemeanor, which has a maximum sentence of sixty days in jail and a $500 fine.
Seek Help from an Attorney
While public perception is that shoplifting is not a serious crime, the criminal justice system takes shoplifting very seriously. A shoplifting conviction will follow a defendant for their entire life. If you are facing a shoplifting charge, you need legal advice, contact Moses & Rooth. We can work with you to develop a plea bargain or argue for restitution or dismissal. Please contact us today at 407-377-0150 to schedule an appointment.