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Shoplifting / Petit Theft

Tallahassee Theft attorney

The term “five-finger discount” is one often heard on TV and in movies when referring to the crime of shoplifting. In Florida, a person who is caught shoplifting, or attempting to take an item or property from a store, can be charged with the criminal offense of retail theft.

As it sounds, retail theft is a form of theft crime that takes place within a retail store. Whether a person is caught stealing clothes, electronics, food, or other goods is irrelevant. If you are caught stealing from a store, the reality is a grim one. Retail theft is considered a felony offense, meaning a conviction can have a severe impact on your future.

To protect yourself after false allegations of shoplifting, consider hiring a Florida defense attorney experienced in retail theft crimes.

Tallahassee Retail Theft Defense Lawyer

If you have recently been charged with retail theft, contact the attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm. Our team of attorneys have years of experience in the legal field, and we understand the importance of defending your freedom. Our promise is to manage your case with the utmost importance and make sure your voice is heard. We will also ensure that all your rights are protected during this process.

To schedule a free and confidential consultation to go over the details of your case, call (850) 681-7777 or contact us online. Our firm proudly represents clients accused of theft and property crimes throughout the Florida Panhandle: including Fort Walton Beach, DeFuniak Springs, Panama City, Tallahassee, Madison, Vernon, Mayo, and others.

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Florida Retail Theft Information Center

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What is Retail Theft?

Retail theft is a form of theft commonly referred to as shoplifting. Shoplifting is defined as the unauthorized removal of merchandise from a store without paying for it, or intentionally paying less for an item that the sale price listed. Shoplifting can also include carrying, hiding, concealing, or manipulating merchandise for the purpose of taking it without consent.

The offense of retail theft is outlined under Florida Statute Section 812.015 as depriving a store owner or merchant of the possession, use, benefit, or full retail value by committing any of the following acts:

  1. Taking possession of or carrying away any merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents;
  2. Altering or removing a label, universal product code, or price tag;
  3. Transferring merchandise from one container to another; or
  4. Removing a shopping cart from a store.

Some actions that could result in arrest and a retail theft charge include:

  • A girl sees a dress they like in a store but can’t afford it. Instead of placing it back, the person exchanges the price tag with an item of much lesser value;
  • A store employee spots an item in their store’s inventory they want for themselves and hides it in the bathroom with the intent to retrieve it later;
  • A teenager eats candy inside a grocery store without paying for it;
  • Two friends go into a store they like and find items they both want. Instead of purchasing them, they place the items at the bottom of their purse and walk out without paying; or
  • A group of friends take a shopping cart from a grocery store as a prank.

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Penalties for Shoplifting in Florida

When a person is accused of retail theft, they will be charged with a felony offense. The exact penalties will be dependent on the value of the alleged stolen item(s). It’s also important to distinguish retail theft in comparison to a regular theft charge. A person can be charged individually or with multiple people if they were accused of being a part of an organized theft ring.

A defendant faces a third-degree felony for retail theft if they individually, or with multiple people, commit any of the following:

  • Coordinate a retail theft offense where the amount of each individual theft is aggregated within a 30-day period and the stolen item(s) is valued at $750 or more;
  • Conspires with another person to commit retail theft with the intent to sell the stolen property for monetary or other gain, and subsequently causes the property to be placed in control of another person, in which the stolen property is valued at $750 or more;
  • Individually, or in concert with other individuals, commits theft from more than one location within a 30-day window, in which the stolen property is valued at $750 or more;
  • Acts in concert with one or more people to distract the merchant, employee, security guard, or law enforcement officer to conduct a retail theft offense and such value is at $750 or more;
  • Commits retail theft through the purchase of an item or merchandise in a package or box that contains other products, or products in addition to the merchandise to be contained, in which the stolen property is valued at $750 or more; or
  • Individually, or in concert with one or more people, commits five (5) or more retail theft offenses within a 30-day window and in committing such theft obtains 10 or more items of merchandise, where two or more thefts were committed at separate locations. For this offense, the value of such merchandise is irrelevant.

A defendant faces a second-degree felony for retail theft if they individually, or with multiple people, commit any of the following:

  • Commits retail theft after previously being convicted of the same offense;
  • Individually, or in concert with others, coordinates the activities of other people committing retail theft, in which the stolen property is valued at $3,000 or more;
  • Conspires with another person to commit retail theft with the intent to sell the stolen property for monetary or other gain and such value is at $3,000 or more;
  • Individually, or in concert with one or more people, commits five (5) or more retail theft offenses within a 30-day window and in committing such theft obtains 20 or more items of merchandise, where two or more thefts were committed at separate locations. For this offense, the value of such merchandise is irrelevant.

Additional Penalties

Under Florida Statute Section 812.015(7), it is unlawful for any person to possess, use or attempt to use, any antishoplifting or inventory control device within the premises of any retail service. If you are caught in possession of an antishoplifting device, or are caught using an antishoplifting device, you could be charged with a third-degree felony.

Additionally, a person who, during or after a retail theft crime, resists the effort of a merchant, employee, or law enforcement officer attempting to recover the stolen property can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.

In Florida, the penalties for each level of retail theft-related crime are listed below:

  • First-degree misdemeanor: Conviction can result in up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in jail.
  • Third-degree felony: Conviction can result in up to $5,000 in fines and up to five (5) years in prison.
  • Second-degree felony: Conviction can result in up to $10,000 in fines and up to 15 years in prison.

If you have any questions about the charges against you or the resulting penalties with a conviction, contact Pumphrey Law Firm.

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Defenses to a Retail Theft Charge in Florida

There are multiple defenses that may apply to a retail theft case:

  • Mere Presence – Florida’s law on retail theft explains a person can be charged individually or with other people allegedly involved in the ongoing theft. However, if the defendant was merely present while others were committing the crime, a defense attorney may be able to use this as a defense.
  • Voluntary Abandonment – If the defendant takes back their plan to commit retail theft and leaves the items or tells the other co-conspirators they no longer wish to engage in the crime before it’s committed, a defense attorney may be able to use this defense against the shoplifting charge.
  • Valueless Property – A defendant who took something that was placed in the trash of a merchant’s store can have a defense attorney use the valueless property defense.

Given that retail theft crimes can involve more than one person, these cases can become quite complex. If you have been arrested for an accusation of shoplifting, contact an attorney with Pumphrey Law Firm to discuss possible defense strategies.

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Finding A Tallahassee Theft Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a theft or property crime in Leon County, contact the skilled Tallahassee criminal defense lawyers at Pumphrey Law to discuss the details of your case. One of our experienced defense attorneys may be able to use a specific defense strategy to have your charge dismissed or reduced. Although shoplifting may not seem that bad in comparison to other criminal offenses, there are harsh consequences you could face if you are convicted. You will want a knowledgeable attorney on your side who can provide legal insight and protect your rights throughout the entire process.

Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation regarding your case today.


Page Updated March 6, 2024

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