Taking merchandise without paying from it is a crime. Many retailers are cracking down on shoplifters, especially now at one of the busiest retail times of the year. If you take merchandise from a retail establishment and “forget” to pay for it, you might be charged with shoplifting. These charges can be difficult to defend, because the store may have video of the incident. Even so, you should put on a strong defense because the crime can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The distinction depends on the value of the merchandise taken, and the punishment is different depending on the classification.
Florida statutes define shoplifting, and fix the penalties as follows:
- Second degree petit theft: the value of the items taken is less than $100.00, the possible jail time to do is up to 60 days and the maximum fine is $500.00. This type of charge is a misdemeanor.
● First degree petit theft: the value of the merchandise is between $100.00 and $300.00. The possible jail time for first degree petit theft is up to 364 days in jail and the maximum fine is $1,000.00. This type of charge is also classified as a misdemeanor.
● Third degree grand theft: this charge is a felony and involves merchandise with a value of between $300.00 and $20,000.00! A conviction for third degree grand theft carries possible incarceration of up to 5 years.
Given the possible range of punishment, it is crucial you seek the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with shoplifting. Presenting evidence that contradicts video surveillance or eye witness testimony is tricky, but can be done. Our team of skilled defense attorneys has experience helping people charged with theft crimes. Keep in mind the range of punishment says “up to” a certain number of days in jail. We fight for your freedom and for the lowest possible sentence allowable by law.
If you have been arrested for a theft crime, call our office to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney. We help people charged with all sorts of crimes in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Call today to schedule an appointment.