Shoplifting in Florida is referred to as “retail theft.” According to Florida criminal statutes, retail theft occurs when a person, “unlawfully takes goods from a merchant or store with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of the property from realizing a monetary benefit,” from its sale.
If you are arrested for shoplifting in St. Petersburg, the value of the merchandise allegedly shoplifted, determines charges: either petit (petty) theft or grand theft [Fla. Stat. § 812.014]. In addition to paying a fine, incarceration and having to reimburse the merchant for the value of the item(s) stolen; conviction for any kind of theft – even a misdemeanor – can affect your ability to obtain a professional license (lawyer, doctor, engineer, government security clearance), threaten your reputation and enhance future criminal sentences if you are convicted of another theft offense or other crime.
Retail theft can be committed in a variety of ways, including:
- Stealing or carrying away the merchant’s property
- Altering labels or price tags
- Transferring merchandise from one container to another
- Removing a shopping cart from store property
Merchants who realistically believe a person has committed shoplifting can reasonably detain them to retrieve the goods and until police arrive.
Penalties for Petty Shoplifting/Retail Theft
Not only do penalties for shoplifting depend on the value of the merchandise in question, but the defendant’s criminal history also is factored into punishment. If the merchandise value is less than $100, it is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of no more than $500 [Fla. Stat. § 812.014].
Allegedly stolen items worth between $100 and $300 bring a first-degree misdemeanor theft charge [Fla. Stat. § 812.014, 13 (3-a)]. Penalties can result in fines of up to $1,000 and a maximum of a year in county jail. If the suspect has been convicted of any misdemeanor theft two or more times, then the next theft charge is a third-degree felony.
Felony Shoplifting Charges and Penalties
If the value of the allegedly stolen merchandise is more than $300, then suspects are charged with:
- Third-degree grand theft: Allegations involve retail property theft of $300 or more but less than $20,000, as well as a firearm and other specified items. Penalties include fines as high as $5,000 and a maximum 5-year prison sentence [Fla. Stat. § 812.014(2)(c)].
- Second-degree felony: This charge encompasses property with a cumulative value of more than $20,000 but less than $100,000. Penalties upon conviction involve fines of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison [Fla. Stat. § 812.014(2)(b)].
- First-degree felony: The most serious charge involves theft of items totaling more than $100,000. Fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 30 years are possible upon conviction [Fla. Stat. § 812.014(2)(a)].
If you are arrested for shoplifting in St. Petersburg, the experienced theft lawyers at Goldman Wetzel can help you mount the best possible defense. Contact us at 727-828-3900 or fill out our online contact form.