Enduring a criminal proceeding can be a stressful and intimidating process. If you have no prior experience with the criminal justice system, you may be unclear about your rights or your ability to contest the charges made against you.
Building a solid defense can be essential to a positive outcome in any criminal case. Enlisting the help of one of our seasoned theft attorneys at Leifert & Leifert may be crucial to your ability to defend yourself against shoplifting charges. A Wellington shoplifting lawyer may be able to address your concerns and help prepare you for the next steps in your criminal case.
Shoplifting Charges in Wellington
Fla. Stat. § 812.015 governs shoplifting or retail theft in the state of Florida, which can qualify as petit or grand theft, depending on the circumstances. Generally, many people think shoplifting consists of removing goods from stores without paying from them. Florida law, however, expands the concept of retail theft to cover not only merchandise, but also any property, funds, or negotiable instruments in the store.
Likewise, shoplifting also encompasses the removal or changing of price tags to pay less for an item, removing an item and placing it in a container marked for a lower price, and taking possession of the property, even if not removed from the store. The critical factor in each of these instances is that the individuals take these actions with the intent of depriving the store owners of the full retail value and benefit and make use of the stolen items. For more information about shoplifting charges, contact an accomplished defense attorney.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Wellington
The value of the stolen items and any existing prior theft convictions could have a significant impact on the severity of the charge. Generally, if the value of the merchandise is less than $300 and it is a first or second offense, you would face Misdemeanor charges, as per Fla. Stat. § 812.014. A conviction on a first or second-degree Misdemeanor may result in a jail sentence ranging from no jail time to one year, as well as a fine ranging from zero to $1,000.
In some cases, however, retail theft or shoplifting offenses may be charged as a Felony. A Felony offense may result in more severe penalties upon conviction. For a third theft offense, even if it involves merchandise valued at less than $300, the charge is a third-degree Felony under Florida law. The crime also becomes a third-degree Felony if it involves use or possession of a device used to counter anti-theft measures in retail stores or if it involves merchandise valued at between $300 and $20,000.
A conviction for a third-degree Felony can result in up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Felony convictions also carry the potential for collateral consequences, such as the inability to possess firearms or hold public office. A shoplifting lawyer in Wellington may be able to explain the full range of implications of a Felony conviction in Florida.
Consult a Wellington Shoplifting Attorney for Advice
The ramifications of a shoplifting or retail theft conviction can be daunting whether it is a first-time misdemeanor or a felony theft offense. A conviction could potentially prevent you from working in selected industries and obtain occupational licenses. A Wellington shoplifting lawyer at Leifert & Leifert may be able to minimize the severity of your charge or have the case dismissed if you seek legal assistance as quickly as possible.
Having legal counsel on your side from the outset of your case may allow you to mount a more robust defense to the charges against you. By determining the defense strategy that works best for you, you may reach a more favorable outcome in your case.