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Shoplifting Charges in Florida

Defend Ocala Jan. 10, 2024

Woman stealing jeans at the boutiqueIn Florida, as in any state, being charged with shoplifting can be a frightening experience. The confusion and embarrassment that accompany these charges often leave individuals feeling uncertain and anxious about their future. We understand the stress and fear you may be experiencing, which is why we're here to provide some clarity on the matter.  

Increasing your understanding of your situation is an important first step toward handling any legal process with care and precision. With this article, we aim to shed light on the potential implications of shoplifting charges in Florida, empowering you with the information you need to better navigate your unique circumstances. 

How Florida Defines Shoplifting

Florida law refers to shoplifting as "retail theft". These charges are broader than you’d think; they aren't limited to those who just physically steal an item without payment; they extend to actions such as tampering with or removing labels, universal product codes (UPCs), or price tags. Even the act of taking a shopping cart with the intent to deprive the merchant is covered under this statute. 

In essence, Florida's retail theft laws cover a wide range of conduct, making it crucial to understand the specifics if you find yourself facing such charges. 

Penalties if You're Convicted

The penalties for retail theft in Florida can vary greatly, depending largely on the value of the stolen merchandise and the defendant's prior criminal history.  

  • For instance, if the stolen goods are worth less than $100, you could be looking at a charge of petit theft in the second degree. This is a second-degree misdemeanor and could result in up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. However, if you've been convicted of theft before, the charge can be escalated to a first-degree misdemeanor. 

  • Should the value of the stolen merchandise fall between $101 and $300, you could be charged with petit theft in the first degree. This comes with potential penalties of up to one year in county jail, one year of probation, and/or a fine of up to $1,000. And don't forget about your driver's license — Florida law mandates its suspension for up to six months for a first offense, and up to one year for second or subsequent offenses. 

  • For thefts involving merchandise valued between $301 and $5,000, you could be facing charges of grand theft in the third degree. This is a third-degree felony and carries potential consequences of up to five years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. 

Repeat offenses or prior theft convictions can lead to upgraded charges and increased penalties. Given these potential consequences, it's crucial to consult with a local attorney who can help you fully understand your legal rights and options.  

What to Do if You're Accused of Retail Theft

Getting charged with shoplifting is something we never wish on anyone. But knowing what to do in the moment can help you respond appropriately and protect your rights. If you're ever accused of retail theft, the following are some crucial things you should keep in mind: 

  1. Stay calm and silent. Allowing anger to take over can exacerbate the situation and lead to regrettable verbal attacks. Staying silent can be invaluable, as anything you say can be interpreted as a profession of guilt and used against you in court. A great rule of thumb is to never say anything about the case at hand without an attorney present.  

  1. Take note of how the store handles the incident. Store owners and security officers have the legal right to detain individuals on suspicion of shoplifting until law enforcement arrives. However, they must have reasonable grounds to suspect shoplifting and can only use reasonable and non-lethal means of detainment. Using excessive force, including deadly force or causing significant bodily harm, is generally prohibited and can lead to potential legal repercussions. Keeping your eye out for this can come in handy for defense purposes. 

  1. Speak with a lawyer. If you're dealing with shoplifting charges in Florida, it's vital to be fully aware of your legal rights and options. A conviction can lead to serious repercussions, including hefty fines, jail, or prison time, and suspension of your driver's license. That's where we come in. At Defend Ocala, we're here to guide you through the legal process, safeguard your rights, and strive for the best possible outcome for your case. 

Choose Us as Your Defense Team

Our experienced attorneys at Defend Ocala can offer personalized advice tailored to the specific details of your case, help you understand the potential consequences of a conviction, and assist in building a robust defense. We're not just here to represent you in court, we're also here to explore possible alternatives to conviction, such as diversion programs or plea negotiations. 

When facing shoplifting charges in Florida, don't navigate the legal waters alone. At Defend Ocala, we've got your back. Reach out to us today to set up a free consultation about your case. We're proud to serve Florida clients throughout Ocala, Clermont, Leesburg, Tavares, Eustis, Marion County, and Lake County.