Shoplifting or Retail Theft under Florida Statutes section 812.014 is a theft offense in Ft Lauderdale that usually involves the theft of merchandise from a retail store. Shoplifting requires proof of the following two elements:
A. The knowing and unlawful taking of merchandise.
B. The Intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive the store of their merchandise.
The severity or degree of the offense depends mainly on the value of the merchandise taken which is determined by the market value of the merchandise at the time and place of the offense. In order to build a defense for this offense and protect your rights, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced Ft Lauderdale shoplifting lawyer.
Types of Theft
The majority of shoplifting cases are misdemeanors involving values less than $300.00. If the value exceeds $300.00, the case is a felony. The most common factual scenario involves concealment of merchandise from the retailer. Other examples also include switching price tags and fraudulent returns or refunds. The stores and malls in South Florida routinely utilize loss prevention officers who are often times disguised as ordinary shoppers. Loss prevention officers will also be monitoring their cameras from a non-disclosed location within the store.
Second Degree Misdemeanor – if the value of the merchandise is less than $100.00. The maximum punishment is 60 days in the county jail.
First Degree Misdemeanor – if the value of the merchandise is greater than $100.00 but less than $300.00 or if there is a prior conviction for any theft related offense. The maximum penalty is one year in the county jail.
Third Degree Felony – shoplifting items worth more than $300.00 but less than $5,000.00 or has two prior convictions for any theft related offenses. The maximum penalty is 5 years in prison.
Second Degree Felony – shoplifting items worth more than $5,000.00 but less than $100,000.00. The maximum penalty is 15 years in prison.
First Degree Felony – shoplifting items worth more than $100,000.00. The maximum penalty is 30 years in prison.
Process of a Broward County Shoplifting Case
If the store desires prosecution, the local law enforcement agency is asked to respond and take the complaint. If the allegation of shoplifting is a misdemeanor, the police officer has the discretion to issue a “notice to appear” or written arrest and let the accused leave from the store without taking the individual to jail to be processed and booked. The decision to fully arrest usually depends on criminal history (or lack thereof), the individual’s ties to the community and ability to provide proper identification. If the allegation of shoplifting is a felony, law enforcement will take the individual into custody and undergo the complete booking process and the posting of bail or bond at which point that individual should consult with a Ft Lauderdale shoplifting attorney.
Building a Defense
The most common defense to an allegation of shoplifting is “mistake.” When claiming “mistake” other factors will be considered in determining the viability of the defense. Was the item or items concealed? Were there means to pay for the item by way of cash, credit card or other forms of payment? Another defense is if an individual has an honest, good faith belief that they had the right to possess the property.
A charge of shoplifting or retail theft can have a devastating effect on your future, your family, employment, reputation in the community, and overall well-being. It can also affect your ability to maintain or secure future employment and have serious implications when dealing with citizenship and residency issues. If you have been charged with Shoplifting, it is crucial to have a seasoned shoplifting defense lawyer who can effectively handle your case.
How a Ft Lauderdale Shoplifting Lawyer Can Help
If you are facing criminal charges for shoplifting, it is imperative to have an experienced and local Broward County attorney representing you. For more than 25 years, the shoplifting defense attorneys at Leifert & Leifert have represented thousands of clients throughout South Florida. Our Ft Lauderdale shoplifting attorneys will aggressively pursue alternative resolutions; for example, you may be eligible for dismissal via a first offender diversion program and thereafter eligible to seal or expunge your shoplifting case. We will look for other ways to obtain dismissal or a resolution which avoids a conviction being placed on your record.
If you have recently been arrested or are facing charges for shoplifting or retail theft, contact the law firm of Leifert & Leifert or fill out and submit our online Contact Us form to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced shoplifting defense lawyer.