A Comprehensive Guide To Shoplifting Charges In Florida
Were you or a loved one arrested for shoplifting in Florida? It is a serious criminal charge. You need to be prepared to raise a proactive, well-supported defense to protect your rights and your interests. There are many misconceptions about our state’s shoplifting laws. Within this article, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer provides an in depth guide to shoplifting charges in Florida.
Shoplifting is Retail Theft: Know the Law in Florida
Shoplifting is a form of retail theft. Under Florida law (Florida Statute § 812.014), a person can be charged with a conviction of a theft offense if they “knowingly obtain or use, or endeavor to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently.”
Penalties for Shoplifting Depend on Amount (May Be Misdemeanor or Felony)
Is shoplifting in Florida a misdemeanor or a felony? It depends largely on the amount that was taken. Here is a basic explanation of the classification of shoplifting charges (and the associated penalties) in Florida:
- Under $100: For items valued at less than $100, a first offense is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- $100 to $300: The charge becomes a first degree misdemeanor subject to more serious criminal penalties if the amount allegedly taken is between $100 and $300.
- Over $300: In Florida, shoplifting becomes a felony when the stolen goods exceed $300 in value. It is then classified as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Note: Florida also has a provision for habitual offenders: if someone commits theft from a merchant three or more times within 48 months, that person may be charged with a third-degree felony, regardless of the value of the items stolen.
An Overview of Defenses that Can Be Raised Against Shoplifting Charges in Florida
Of course, an arrest for shoplifting is not the same thing as a conviction for shoplifting. You have the right to raise a zealous defense against a shoplifting charge. Here are some specific defenses that can be raised in shoplifting cases in Florida:
- Lack of Intent: This defense argues that the accused did not intend to steal the merchandise. Accidental shoplifting happens more often than you might think, such as unintentionally walking out with unpaid items in one’s hand or baby stroller.
- Mistaken Identity: If there’s questionable evidence like grainy CCTV footage, the accused may argue that they have been wrongly identified as the shoplifter.
- Ownership: The accused can claim that they believed the item they took was their own. This can be a particularly strong defense if the accused owns a similar item.
- Insufficient Evidence: This defense points to a lack of substantial evidence linking the accused to the crime.
Contact Our Orlando, FL Shoplifting Defense Attorney for Immediate Help
At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer has the skills and expertise to handle all types of shoplifting charges. If you or your loved one was arrested for shoplifting, we are here to help. Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Contact us now to arrange your fully confidential, no obligation initial legal case evaluation. From our Orlando law office, we defend shoplifting charges in Orange County and throughout all of Central Florida.