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Is Shoplifting a Felony in Florida?

July 31, 2023
By The Wiseman Law Firm

In Florida, shoplifting is legally considered retail theft. According to Florida Statute § 812.015, retail theft refers to the act of:

  • Taking away merchandise, money, property, or documents
  • modifying or removing a label, universal product code, or price tag
  • moving retail items from one container to another
  • removing a shopping cart, with intent of depriving the owner, operator, or officer of the use, benefit, possession, or full retail value of the item.

Shoplifting Can Be a Misdemeanor or Felony

Under Florida law, shoplifting can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The charges depends on the value of stolen goods, whether any tools were used in the theft, and whether the shoplifter has any prior convictions.

If the value of goods stolen exceeds $750, the shoplifting charge automatically becomes a felony of the third degree. Additionally, if any tools were used in the theft or if the individual has previously been convicted of a theft offense the offense may be considered a felony of a higher degree.

What Are the Penalties for Shoplifting in Florida?

As we mentioned, the potential penalties for shoplifting in Florida vary depending on the degree of offense. For a Petit Theft of the Second Degree, where the value is less than $100, you could face a fine of up to $500, imprisonment for up to 60 days, or both.

If the value of stolen merchandise is between $100 and $750, it becomes a Petit Theft of the First Degree, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a jail term of up to one year, or both. However, if the value exceeds $750, the charge is escalated to Grand Theft of the Third Degree.

Grand Theft of the Third Degree carries a prison term of up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. If the value of the stolen goods is between $20,000 and $100,000, it becomes Grand Theft of the Second Degree, with potential penalties of up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Finally, theft involving goods valued at $100,000 or more is classified as Grand Theft of the First Degree, carrying the possibility of up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

What Are the Long-Term Consequences of a Shoplifting Conviction in Florida?

In addition to any penalties that are handed down by the court, individuals convicted of shoplifting in Florida may also face long-term consequences. These can include:

  • difficulty obtaining employment or housing,
  • social stigma, and
  • other repercussions as a result of having a criminal record.

It is important to have a legal strategy in place to address a shoplifting conviction and mitigate long-term consequences. A qualified attorney can provide guidance on how to best handle such situations.

Can a Shoplifting Charge Be Dropped in Florida?

In some cases, it is possible for a shoplifting charge to be dropped or dismissed in the state of Florida. This generally depends on the specific circumstances of the case and the discretion of the court.

In some cases, an individual may be able to plea bargain with prosecutors and have their charge reduced or dropped completely. If there is a lack of evidence or if the court finds that the individual has strong mitigating factors, the charges can be dismissed entirely.

If your case proceeds to trial, common defense strategies that your defense attorney may employ include:

  • Lack of intent. In order to secure a conviction for shoplifting, the prosecution needs to demonstrate that the accused intended to steal the merchandise. The defense may strategize to demonstrate that the incident was a mistake or misunderstanding.
  • Ownership claims. If the defendant can prove that they had a reasonable belief that the item in question was their own, this too could undermine the prosecution’s case.
  • Entrapment. Although unwavering proof is required, if the defendant can demonstrate that they were coerced or induced into committing the crime by someone else, there may be grounds for a dismissal due to entrapment.
  • Insufficient evidence. If the prosecution fails to present enough evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a shoplifting offense occurred, the charge could be dismissed.
  • Incorrect value of stolen items. If the prosecution has inflated the value of the stolen items, correcting the value could reduce the charges from felony to misdemeanor status.
  • Involuntary intoxication. This defense is rarely used but could apply if a person was involuntarily intoxicated and, as a result, had impaired judgment when the alleged theft took place.

Keep in mind, the success of these defenses often hinges on the specific circumstances of the case and the skill of the defense attorney. As such, it is important to engage a seasoned attorney who is well-versed in Florida’s theft laws and can evaluate the best defense strategy based on the unique aspects of your case.

Retain a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

At The Wiseman Law Firm, our attorney has nearly 25 years of legal experience and is more than equipped to help you or a loved one mount a solid defense. We handle juvenile cases as well as theft crime cases and have helped countless clients obtain the best possible case results.

Learn how our firm can help with your defense strategy by calling 407-420-4647 and scheduling an initial consultation.

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