Categories of Theft Crimes in Florida Part 3: Shoplifting

Last month, we covered robbery. This time, we explore a less severe crime, shoplifting.

For those accused of committing this crime, you should understand the legal definitions and penalties associated with it.

This article explores different aspects of shoplifting crimes, focusing on how authorities view this offense in Florida.

Florida Shoplifting Laws

According to state law, shoplifting is the act of physically taking an item from a store without paying. It also includes altering price tags or packaging, transferring goods from one container to another, or aiding and abetting someone else in a shoplifting offense.

Shoplifting Penalties in Florida

Shoplifting can result in either a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the value of the stolen items.

Here are some various punishments associated with shoplifting in the Sunshine State:

Petty Theft

Shoplifting involving merchandise valued between $40 and $400 is considered petty theft. Offenders may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances.

Misdemeanor Penalties

For a misdemeanor petty theft charge, the maximum punishment is up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.

Felony Penalties

If the total value of the shoplifted items exceeds $400, the offender may face felony charges, which carry more severe penalties, including longer jail time and higher fines.

Prior Criminal History

The defendant's prior criminal history can also impact shoplifting penalties.

Driver's License Suspension

Any shoplifting charge in Florida can result in a driver's license suspension of 6 or 12 months.

Defenses Against Shoplifting Accusations

One common defense is a claim of mistaken identity, which can arise from an unreliable eyewitness or lack of surveillance footage.

Another effective strategy is arguing that you already owned or purchased the item in question.

You can also argue that you took the item by mistake, and you intended to pay for it.

Always consult a legal professional to determine the best defense strategy. Each case is unique, and you must tailor your defense to your situation.

Stealing vs. Shoplifting – The Legal Distinction

Stealing usually involves taking something that belongs to someone else without their permission or knowledge. This could include a wallet, bicycle, or piece of jewelry.

Shoplifting specifically refers to taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. The crime can also involve other actions, such as switching price tags or hiding items in bags or clothing.

Pre-Trial Diversion Programs for Shoplifting Charges

Pre-trial diversion can offer shoplifting suspects an alternative to traditional court proceedings. These programs allow the accused to address any underlying issues that contributed to the shoplifting charge. Such circumstances include addiction or financial strain.

The accused can complete assigned tasks, such as attending counseling or community service. Doing so could lead to a dismissal of your charges. This has a great advantage, as it lets you avoid the lasting impact a criminal record can have on your future employment and personal life.

Post-Conviction Relief for a Shoplifting Conviction in Florida

These options include seeking a reduced sentence through a “motion for downward departure.” A downward departure may convince a judge to impose a sentence below the recommended minimum. Usually, this lighter sentence applies mitigating factors like addiction, financial strain, a low level of harm to the victim, lack of prior offenses, or the defendant's potential for rehabilitation.

You may also be able to seek an expungement of your criminal record, erasing the conviction from your history.

It may be challenging, but seeking post-conviction relief can provide opportunities for a fresh start. Make sure to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the legal process.

Don’t forget to check back with us next month as we complete our series on theft charges in Florida.

The Law Offices of Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr. is here to help defend you against shoplifting allegations. To meet with our skilled team, contact us online or call us at (561) 475-2752.


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