What You Should Know About Shoplifting In Florida
Shoplifting is just about one of the most popular theft crimes ever committed. You might think it’s not a big deal, but it actually is a serious offense.
The problem with things like shoplifting is that they could become a big deal. If you’re caught and convicted, it could have a major implications on your life.
What Is Shoplifting?
It means taking property from a person’s store or business without the permission of the store or business owner.
Under Florida law, shoplifting is often regarded as a misdemeanor. Once you take that property, with the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property, you would be committing an offence under the law.
Whether an act would amount to shoplifting though would depend on several factors including:
- The Value Of The Property Stolen: If the property is valued at less than $100, the offence would be no more than shoplifting punishable with up to 60 days in jail.
- Any Previous Convictions For Retail Theft: If there was already an earlier conviction for retail theft or even any other crime of dishonesty, the offense could still be shoplifting but the consequences would be stricter.
- If Damage Resulted In The Course Of The Theft: The amount of the damages may result in more serious charges than shoplifting. This would equally attract more serious consequences.
- How The Theft Was Carried Out: Even though theft of property below $100 generally amounts to shoplifting and a misdemeanor, if the theft was carried out by tampering with the sensor on the merchandise, the offence could be more serious. For instance, if you tried to remove the anti-theft sensor or inventory control device on the merchandise, you would be committing a much more serious offense.
Depending on the presence of these factors, the particular theft committed may even amount to more than a misdemeanor. It could amount to a felony.
Punishment For Shoplifting
Generally, a conviction for shoplifting will carry a punishment of up to 60 days in jail if the goods stolen totals less than $100. If the value of stolen goods is more than $100, the punishment could increase to imprisonment for 1 year.
If the value of the stolen property is more than $300 then the offense is no longer petty theft but grand theft, which is a third degree felony.
If the offense was carried out with the use of force or if the sensor on the merchandise was tampered with in the course of the theft, the offense could bump up to a third degree felony. This would be punishable by up to 5 years in jail.
On a charge of shoplifting, the prosecution usually has to show two things:
- That the defendant knowingly and unlawfully obtained and used the property of the victim; and
- The defendant had an intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
This means that if you are charged for shoplifting, the prosecution must show that you intended to take the merchandise away permanently. This could be quite important for you if you maybe took the property on a dare or if you changed your mind and intended to return it.
If there is no intention to steal the property and take it away permanently, the prosecution may have a hard time succeeding on the charge of shoplifting.
Consequences Of A Shoplifting Conviction
Even if you’re shoplifting property worth only a few hundred dollars, the consequences of a shoplifting conviction will likely set you back more than that. Some of the consequences could even last for a lifetime. These consequences include the following:
- A Criminal Record: A conviction for shoplifting would show up on your record and it may take years before you would be able to qualify for an expungement of that record.
- Reduced Job Opportunities: A lot of employers check up on the background of their prospective employees. If a criminal record is found in that check, it may affect your chances of securing that job.
- Loss or Suspension Of Your Florida Driver’s License: A first conviction for shoplifting may cause suspension of your drivers’ license. If the conviction is for a second offense, the judge would have to suspend your license for up to a year.
- Denial of a Lease or Revocation of Your Admission to a School: Landlords also do background checks on prospective tenants. They may give more preference to people without criminal records or they may impose stricter conditions on those with criminal records. Even admission for some programs may be revoked on discovery of a criminal record.
If you are charged with shoplifting, there are a number of possible defenses that a qualified attorney can help to identify in your case. Some shoplifting defenses and programs include:
- Customer Mistakenly Leaves the Store: If you forgot that you had not paid for the items or mistakenly took the merchandise out of the store, then there was no intent.
- Mistaken Accusations: If the accusations are false or as a result of some mistake, you can show this.
- Exiting The Store For Purposes Other Than To Take The Property: to retrieve a wallet or purse in order to pay, may show lack of intent.
- Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI): If the victim agrees, you could also take advantage of the PTI program. If you qualify, it allows you to have the charge dropped in exchange for fulfilling some conditions like random drug tests or community service.
Contact an Experienced Orlando Theft & Shoplifting Attorney
Shoplifting and theft charges can carry serious penalties. It’s important to speak to an experienced attorney who can craft the best defense for your case. Orlando defense attorney Chad Frost is a former Florida state prosecutor who has prosecuted hundreds of cases including shoplifting, petit theft, grand theft and more. He understands exactly how the prosecution thinks and can bring that insight to your case. Call Frost Law today at (407) 670-5569 for a free consultation and review of your case.
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