Shoplifting charges in Florida cover more situations than you might think. Retail-related thefts cost state merchants over $50 billion a year. The authorities take these charges seriously.
The legal definition of shoplifting in Florida
Shoplifting in the Sunshine State falls under the charge of retail theft. This includes:
- Taking property, money or negotiable documents away from a merchant
- Removing or altering price tags or UPC labels
- Removing a shopping cart from a retailer
This means that slipping lipstick into your purse without paying for it is shoplifting, but so is switching price tags to pay less.
Retail theft can be a second- or first-degree misdemeanor charge or a third-degree felony. The severity of the charge depends on the value of the property stolen, as well as special circumstances that might apply to the case. For instance:
- Stealing as part of a group of people
- Stealing from multiple stores within 48 hours
- Stealing with the assistance of an anti-theft device
Thresholds for first-offense charges occur at $100, $300 and $3000 in property value. Charges increase in severity with each additional offense. Penalties range from fines from $500 to $5000, and from 60 days to up to 5 years in jail. Additionally, even a conviction for petit theft can result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
Other charges related to shoplifting
Florida state law makes it easy for shoplifters to be caught and prosecuted. The state code establishes legal guidelines for merchants to keep someone accused of stealing on the premises until police arrive. Attempting to run away can result in first-degree charges of resisting arrest. If someone is injured in the process, you may be charged with assault.
There may be additional charges for crimes committed while possessing a firearm and while under the influence or in possession of drugs or alcohol.
Defending yourself against shoplifting charges
The overly broad nature of shoplifting charges in Florida makes it dangerous to navigate the system alone. Stay out of jail and keep your record clean by using the law in your favor.