Many people think shoplifting is a minor offense in Florida. However, a conviction always comes with serious consequences and in some cases, lengthy jail times. Fortunately, not all shoplifting charges end with a conviction. There are defenses available, and anyone charged with the crime should speak to a Florida criminal defense lawyer that will know what they are, and how to use them.
Shoplifting Defined in Florida
The Florida statutes do not use the term shoplifting specifically. Instead, this offense is known as retail theft. The statute defines retail theft as taking merchandise, money, property, or negotiable documents from a merchant, or carrying that property away. Under the statute, removing or altering a label, price tag, or universal product code is also against the law. Additionally, transferring merchandise from one container to another or removing a shopping cart in order to deprive the merchant from their merchandise is also a crime under the statute.
Criminal Penalties for Shoplifting in Florida
Under the theft statute in Florida, the penalties for shoplifting vary depending on the value of the goods stolen. When the value of the stolen goods is less than $100 in value, it is considered petit theft in the second degree. This offense is a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail, a maximum fine of $500, or both. Although this is a second-degree misdemeanor, if a person has a previous offense, it will be upgraded to a first degree misdemeanor.
When the value of stolen goods is between $100 and $300 in value, it is considered petit theft in the first degree. If convicted, this charge carries a sentence of up to one year in county jail, a year of probation, and a $1,000 fine. In some instances, a person may only face a fine instead of probation and jail time.
For either of the above offenses, Florida law also requires a driver’s license suspension for up to six months. Each subsequent conviction will add one year to the suspension.
Retail theft that involves stealing property between $300 and $5,000 in value is considered grand theft in the third degree. This is a felony charge and a conviction carries a maximum of five years in state prison, a maximum fine of $5,000, or both.
Civil Penalties for Shoplifting in Florida
In Florida, merchants that have lost property due to shoplifting can hold the offender liable in civil court for three times the damages sustained, attorney’s fees, and court costs. When the defendant is a minor, the merchant can hold the minor’s parents liable for paying the damages. Before holding shoplifters civilly liable, the merchant must send notice to the shoplifter. If the offender repays the damages within 30 days, they can avoid liability.
Facing Charges? Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers can Help
Although many people may think that shoplifting is a minor offense, it can carry serious jail time and very high fines. If you have been charged, you need the help of our Tampa criminal defense lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. Our knowledgeable attorneys know how to build a solid defense against these charges and give you the best chance of beating the charges. Call us today at (813) 672-1900 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.
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