A misdemeanor such as shoplifting can result in penalties as serious as heavy fines, suspension of your driver’s license, and jail time. In addition, having a misdemeanor on your criminal record can impact your future in numerous other ways!
Whether you are guilty of shoplifting or you were falsely accused in Orlando, FL, it’s important to act fast! A criminal defense lawyer can help you get your charges reduced or dropped.
By working with an experienced misdemeanor lawyer, you have the chance to receive a lesser sentencing or even to be proven innocent! Taking legal action now is an investment that your future self will thank you for!
What Is Considered Shoplifting?
FindLaw defines shoplifting as a type of larceny, which is a legal term that refers to the taking of someone else’s property without their permission, with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of that property. Shoplifting generally refers to theft from a store or other place of business.
Shoplifting isn’t limited to the idea of simply hiding something under your jacket and walking out without paying for it. In addition to the “taking possession of or carrying away of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents” shoplifting can also be defined as “altering or removing a label, universal product code, or price tag; transferring merchandise from one container to another; or removing a shopping cart,” warns HG.org. In other words, even if you pay for an item, if you somehow alter the price from the price intended by the retailer, you could be accused of shoplifting.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Florida
The penalties for shoplifting depend on the value of the item that was stolen or allegedly stolen.
- When the allegedly stolen merchandise is less than $100, the charge will normally be “petit theft,” which is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable with up to 60 days in jail and/or up to $500 in fines, or both. However, if you have a previous criminal record, this charge could be escalated to a first-degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to a year in jail, a year of probation, and up to $1000 in fines.
- If the shoplifted merchandise was over $100, but less than $750, you could be charged with petit theft in the first degree, which is punishable with up to a year in jail, a year of probation, and $1000 in fines as well.
- If you’re accused of shoplifting merchandise that costs over $750 but less than $5000, you could be charged with a third degree felony, grand theft. This moves your conviction from a misdemeanor to a felony and could lead to penalties of five years in prison and up to a $5000 fine, or both.
- All of these penalties and charges can be increased if you have a prior criminal history.
Many people do not think shoplifting is a big deal. But while the idea of walking out of a store without paying for an item might be the topic of many lighthearted “dares,” Florida courts take shoplifting very seriously. Do not let the term “petit theft” fool you – taking something from a store without paying could take you straight to jail. And even if your jail sentence may be relatively short, you will have to deal for the rest of your life with the negative and highly restrictive repercussions of a criminal record.
But what if you didn’t actually shoplift?
Common Ways People Are Falsely Accused of Shoplifting
False accusations of shoplifting are, unfortunately, very common. Large companies can easily intimidate innocent customers who are wrongly accused by demanding payments with the threat of a lawsuit.
False accusations may often happen when
- A customer puts merchandise in a reusable bag, tote, or purse with the intention of paying.
- The child of a customer puts merchandise in a bag or purse without the adult customer noticing.
- A self-checkout scanner fails to record an item but the customer doesn’t notice and walks out without being charged for it.
- A customer is trying to make a return for an item they purchased but employees believe it was stolen.
- A customer simply forgets that they have merchandise on their person and walks out of the store.
This list is not exhaustive! If you’ve been falsely accused of shoplifting in Orlando, FL, you need to contact a lawyer right away for help. Don’t be intimidated by the threats of large chains or corporations.
Whether you did actually shoplift, or you were falsely accused, you can take some stress off your shoulders by contacting a criminal defense law firm that cares about your best interests! Call the Law Office of Donald A. Lykkebak to talk about possible defenses to your case and to make a plan of action! Contact us at 407-425-4044 or online for a free consultation!