Shoplifting / Petit Theft
Shoplifting charges can result from a variety of situations. Often times the alleged offender did not intend to take the items. An innocent person even can be charged if the person inadvertently leaves the store or retail establishment with an item. In other cases, someone intentionally took an item and intended to keep it. No matter the situation, there could be harsh penalties for the crime.
Often times people who are facing shoplifting charges have no prior record and never dreamed they would be accused of a criminal law violation. The crime often is associated with juvenile offenses. However, anyone could be charged with the crime. A Tallahassee theft lawyer can help you get the best possible result in your case.
Tallahassee Shoplifting Defense Lawyer
Shoplifting may seem like a minor crime, but law enforcement takes the offense seriously. If charged with a retail theft crime, you could face harsh penalties, including jail time and fines. You have the right to build a strong defense against the charges. A Tallahassee theft lawyer at Pumphrey Law can help.
Contact the shoplifting defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law to find out what you need to quickly do to protect yourself against this criminal charge with serious consequences. People without any prior criminal record must fight to protect their right to seal or expunge the criminal record. Our attorneys can provide you with experienced, aggressive and compassionate representation.
Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free case evaluation. Pumphrey Law represents clients throughout the Florida Panhandle, including those in Tallahassee in Leon County, Bristol in Liberty County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Monticello in Jefferson County and Quincy in Gadsden County.
Florida Shoplifting Information Center
- Shoplifting Offenses in Florida
- Penalties for Shoplifting
- Defense to the Criminal Charge of Retail Theft or Shoplifting
Retail theft means taking possession of or carrying away of merchandise, property, money or negotiable documents, according to Florida Statute § 812.015. A person could be charged with retail theft, or shoplifting, if he or she takes merchandise from a store. It also could apply if a person alters or removes a label, Universal Product Code or price tag.
Additionally, if a person possesses any item that removes anti-shoplifting devices without being in lawful possession, he or she can be charged with a criminal theft offense. For example, if a person enters a store with a tool to remove an anti-shoplifting device, he or she could be charged with an offense.
To prove this theft crime, the prosecutor must show the person accused has actual knowledge and an understanding of the facts or the truth. The prosecution must also show the defendant intended to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit or full retail value of the merchandise while doing one of the following:
- Taking possession or carrying away merchandise
- Transferring merchandise from one container to another
- Altering or removing a label or price tag from merchandise
- Removing a shopping cart from a merchant's premises
Shoplifting can be charged as either petit theft or grand theft, depending on the value of the item taken, according to Florida Statute § 812.014. The punishments and penalties can be determined by the value of the property involved. It also can depend on whether the person charged has any prior convictions.
If the merchant alleges the value of the stolen merchandise is less than $100, the offense can be charged as a second-degree misdemeanor, known as petit theft. A second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail, six months probation and a $500 fine.
If the value of the item is between $100 and $300, the offense can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by a $1000 fine, up to 12 months probation or up to one year in jail.
If the merchant alleges the value of the item taken is more than $300 but less than $5,000, the shoplifting offense can be charged as a felony grand theft offense. A third-degree grand theft felony for shoplifting in Florida is punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.
The effects of a shoplifting conviction can last much longer than the time it takes to resolve the criminal charge. Regardless of whether the crime is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, if the judge adjudicates you guilty of the offense, then you will be convicted of a "crime of dishonesty."
This is an impeachable offense that you may have to report on any job application for the rest of your life. This could make it difficult to apply for jobs, especially in retail. In addition, a conviction for any theft offense will show up during even the most basic background check.
Shoplifting charges can be overwhelming, and you may feel like there are no options in helping you defend yourself. However, depending on the facts of your case, there may be a solid defense to help you combat the charges.
In certain shoplifting cases, the item was taken by accident without acting "knowingly." A taking that is "knowingly" means an act done voluntarily and intentionally and not because of mistake or accident or other innocent reason.
For example, if a shopper purchases shoes and a necklace also is within the box, if the shopper did not know the item was there, a Tallahassee theft lawyer could argue it was not shoplifting because the shopper did not act "knowingly."
In many of these cases obtaining the merchant's surveillance footage may help show how the accident occurred. Often the shopper becomes distracted because of unusual circumstances or makes no attempt to conceal the item. In these instances, the shopper may not have intentionally taken the item.
Finding A Retail Theft Attorney in Tallahassee
Retail theft charges can seem intimidating, but a Tallahassee theft lawyer at Pumphrey Law can help you combat the charges. Our attorneys are experienced in helping men and women obtain the favorable results in their shoplifting cases throughout Florida's Second Judicial Circuit including Bristol in Liberty County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Monticello in Jefferson County and Quincy in Gadsden County.
Article last updated October 22, 2016.
Attorney Don Pumphrey Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney.