Shoplifting / Retail Theft
Retail theft—more commonly referred to as shoplifting—has multiple definitions under state law in Florida. Florida Statute § 812.015(1)(d) defines retail theft as meaning:
- The taking possession of or carrying away of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents;
- Altering or removing a label, universal product code, or price tag; transferring merchandise from one container to another; or
- Removing a shopping cart, with intent to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value.
While many people believe shoplifting is not a terribly serious offense, the truth is that a retail theft crime can become a felony offense when the value of the property allegedly stolen exceeds a certain amount. In addition to harsh criminal penalties that may include possible imprisonment and fines, a conviction can also carry several additional long-term consequences because of having the criminal charge reflected on a person’s criminal record.Lawyer for Shoplifting Arrests in Miami-Dade County, Florida
Do you believe that you are currently being investigated or were you already arrested for a retail theft offense in Florida? It will be in your best interest to contact The Hoffman Firm as soon as possible for help possibly getting the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Evan A. Hoffman is a criminal defense attorney in Miami who helps clients accused of theft offenses in the greater Miami-Dade County area, including such communities as Coral Gables, Hialeah, South Miami, Aventura, and many others. Call (305) 249-0090 right now to have our lawyer review your case during a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Retail Theft Crimes in North Miami
- How are shoplifting offenses classified?
- Can the store sue me for civil damages?
- Where can I learn more about retail theft in Miami-Dade County?
Shoplifting Charges in Florida
Depending on the value of the property allegedly stolen, a retail theft offense can be classified as either petit theft or grand theft. The general classifications by property value include:
- Less Than $100 — Second-degree misdemeanor offense of petit theft of the second degreepunishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500;
- $100 or More, But Less Than $300 — Second-degree misdemeanor offense of petit theft of the second degreepunishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000;
- $300 or More, But Less Than $20,000 — Third-degree felony offense of grand theft of the third degreepunishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000;
- $20,000 or More, But Less Than $100,000 — Second-degree felony offense of grand theft in the second degreepunishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000; or
- $100,000 or More — First-degree felony offense of grand theft in the first degreepunishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Under Florida Statute § 812.015(8), retail theft can also be a third-degree felony if the value of the property allegedly stolen is $300 or more and the alleged offender:
- Individually, or in concert with one or more other persons, coordinates the activities of one or more individuals in committing the offense, in which case the amount of each individual theft is aggregated to determine the value of the property stolen;
- Commits theft from more than one location within a 48-hour period, in which case the amount of each individual theft is aggregated to determine the value of the property stolen;
- Acts in concert with one or more other individuals within one or more establishments to distract the merchant, merchant’s employee, or law enforcement officer in order to carry out the offense, or acts in other ways to coordinate efforts to carry out the offense; or
- Commits the offense through the purchase of merchandise in a package or box that contains merchandise other than, or in addition to, the merchandise purported to be contained in the package or box.
If the alleged offender has been previously convicted of one of the offenses listed above or coordinates the activities of one or more persons in committing the offense of retail theft where the stolen property has a value in excess of $3,000, the crime is a second-degree felony.
Civil Retail Theft Penalties in Miami-Dade County
In addition to criminal charges for shoplifting, alleged offenders can also be subject to civil claims by retail establishments. Florida Statute § 772.11 establishes that any people who prove “by clear and convincing evidence” that they have been injured in any fashion by theft crimes have causes of action for threefold the actual damages sustained and, in any such actions, are entitled to minimum damages in the amount of $200, and reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs in the trial and appellate courts.
While the property allegedly stolen in most shoplifting cases is recovered and returned to merchants, thus leading to no actual monetary damages, some establishments may turn the alleged offender’s information over to third-party law firms that then send the alleged offenders civil demand letters seeking payment of damages. The letters will typically state that failure to pay the damages will result in the firm filing a civil lawsuit.
Many people are understandably concerned about the language in these letters and the possible financial penalties, but the truth is that alleged offenders are rarely (if ever) actually sued in shoplifting cases. An experienced criminal defense attorney can contact the agency behind these letters and put an end to these communications.
Florida Shoplifting Resources
National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) — NASP is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that identifies itself as “the nationwide leader in shoplifting prevention efforts.” It conducts research and offers various programs as well as technical assistance, training, and education to local communities. On this website, you can learn more about some of the classes, programs, and support NASP offers.
Economic Motivators for Shoplifting — As this article published in The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare points out, shoplifting is often attributed to psychological and physiological factors. But this article examines a multitude of other factors that “account for shoplifting behavior focusing on research findings which suggest economic and employment precipitants of the problem.” You can find various statistics relating to the family incomes, economic stress, and attitudes toward economics of shoplifters and other shoppers.
If you have been arrested for shoplifting in Florida, make sure that you immediately seek legal representation. The Hoffman Firm aggressively defends clients in North Miami, Opa-locka, Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, and several nearby communities in Miami-Dade County.
Miami criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman has experience handling these types of cases as a former prosecutor and understands the best ways to help people achieve the most favorable outcomes to retail theft cases. He can review your case and help you understand your legal options as soon as you call (305) 249-0090 or complete an online contact form to set up a free consultation.