Taking merchandise from a store without paying is considered shoplifting, and you can be arrested and charged if you are caught engaging in this type of behavior. Retail establishments typically have strict loss prevention policies and employ undercover security or other guards to prevent theft. The economic loss suffered by a store when instances of shoplifting are great justify the expense companies pay for this type of security, and in the most sophisticated of instances your actions may be caught on hidden camera. When there is videotape evidence of the action, it can be difficult to defend the case. However, this does not mean it is impossible to reach satisfactory results.
Florida statutes define shoplifting as taking merchandise without paying. Three ways you can “get caught”, or charged with shoplifting are:
- A charge of petit theft, which involves merchandise of less than $100 in value. This is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.00.
- A charge of first degree petit theft, which involves merchandise of between $100.00 to $300.00. The possible jail time for this charge is 364 days, and the fine is up to $1,000.00.
- A charge of third degree grand theft, which involves merchandise valued between $300.00 and $20,000.00! The length of incarceration for this charge is up to 5 years.
The key wording in the laws imposing punishment is “up to” a certain number of days in jail, or amount of a fine. The best result is one that minimizes the jail time and the fine you are required to pay. Careful analysis is required and to receive the best possible change, you should contact an attorney with experience defending theft charges as soon as possible after the arrest. Obtaining crucial evidence, such as statements from witnesses and copies of any surveillance tapes is most effective when done close in time to the alleged incident. Call us to review the specific facts of your case and develop an aggressive defense strategy that works.
For more information about shoplifting charges in Florida, call our office today. Contact us today schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. The first visit is a free initial consultation.