Florida shoplifting and theft charges can result in serious criminal penalties, including lengthy jail times and hefty fines. In addition to criminal penalties, offenders may also be subject to civil penalties, such as restitution for stolen property and monetary damages.
If you have been charged with shoplifting, known in Florida as “retail theft,” you need a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your corner every step of the way. The St. Petersburg shoplifting defense attorneys at Khonsari Law Group may explain all of your legal options in detail and can raise the proper defenses to potentially help obtain a dismissal of your case or a favorable plea deal with the State.
Florida Shoplifting Statute
Under Florida law, retail theft—or shoplifting—may consist of any one of the following:
- Physically carrying away merchandise from a store
- Physically removing a shopping cart from a store
- Altering labels or tags on store merchandise
To qualify as retail theft, the offender must have had the specific intent to deprive the owner of the use, benefit, or possession of the merchandise. Also, under Florida’s shoplifting law, merchants are free to detain a person or persons suspected of shoplifting for a “reasonable time” to investigate the situation and try to retrieve any stolen goods. In addition to (or instead of) a retail theft charge, offenders can also face attempted retail theft if they “withdrew” from the theft or otherwise did not complete it.
The criminal penalties for retail theft depend on the monetary amount of goods stolen, previous convictions for retail theft, the type of merchandise or goods stolen, damages resulting from the theft, and devices used to commit the theft (if any). If the stolen merchandise is less than $100, the offender will face a second degree misdemeanor charge, with fines of as much as $500 or incarceration for as long as 60 days in a state prison. If there was a previous theft conviction, the offender could face first-degree misdemeanor charges with fines of as much as $1,000 and as long as one year in jail. These penalties increase along with the dollar amount of the goods stolen. If the value of the stolen property is more than $100,000, the offender will face first-degree felony charges, with fines of as much$10,000 and a prison sentence of as long as 30 years. Offenders may also be subject to civil damages, which may include three times the actual damages (that is, the amount of the merchandise stolen), plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
A person charged with shoplifting in Florida may employ the following defenses:
- Mistaken identity
- Exiting a store for some purpose other than theft
- Merchandise not found in the defendant’s possession
- Poor quality security video camera footage
- Forgetting about merchandise in a bag or stroller
- Set-up by a co-defendant
Contact an Experienced St. Petersburg Shoplifting Defense Attorney Today
Shoplifting can result in serious criminal penalties in Florida. Fortunately, several legal defenses are available, and a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can assist you with raising those defenses in court. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg, Florida criminal defense lawyer, please call us today at (727) 269-5300 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.