Shoplifting in Florida

An interesting caveat about Florida shoplifting charges is that you could potentially be charged with a felony or misdemeanor all based on the store you allegedly stole from. Since shoplifting, otherwise known as retail theft, is penalized based on the value of the property stolen, stealing from a high-end store at the Bal Harbour Shops in Miami could have vastly different consequences than stealing from your local Wal-Mart.

Stolen property valued at $300 or less is charged as a misdemeanor. Property stolen that is valued at $300 or more may be charged as a felony. Theft crimes in Florida are charged under §§ 812.014 or 812.015 of the Florida Statutes.

More often, shoplifting allegations are based on a misunderstanding between the retailer and the alleged offender. To learn more about petit theft versus grand theft, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Bacchus and Navarro.

Attorney for Shoplifting in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Most people think that shoplifting is a petty crime that is not as serious as other crimes, but on the contrary, retail theft can subject a person to serious felony consequences that could cost the alleged offender years in prison.

If you or someone you know has been charged with shoplifting in Broward County, Florida, or in the surrounding areas of Collier County, Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, or Hendry County, then contact the attorneys at Bacchus Law Firm.

Our attorneys are dedicated and zealous advocates for the rights of criminal defendants, and we will fight for the best possible result. Our offices are centrally located at 401 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, just minutes from the Broward County Central Courthouse.

If you have been arrested or are subject to investigative procedures in Miami, West Palm Beach, East Naples, or LaBelle, Florida, then contact our firm immediately.

Call (954) 500-5555 for a no-obligations consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Broward County Shoplifting Information Center

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Retail Theft/Shoplifting in Florida

Under Florida Statute § 812.015 retail theft is a specific statute designed to broaden the actions that could constitute theft in retail situations. To convict an individual of retail theft under Florida law, the State must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, the following:

  1. that the defendant did not enter the store with the alleged items and was seen picking out merchandise;
  2. the defendant took the items into his or her possession;
  3. the defendant concealed or attempted to conceal the merchandise; and
  4. the defendant exited or attempted to exit the retail business without paying for the merchandise in question.

Types of Shoplifting Crimes

The Florida Statutes outline examples of retail theft under Florida law. Some examples include the following:

  • taking a shopping cart;
  • taking or carrying away merchant property with the intent to deprive the merchant of the property or of the value of the property; or
  • changing the price tags on merchandise.

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Misdemeanor Shoplifting in Florida

Under Florida Statute § 812.015 retail theft is a misdemeanor when it is considered petit theft. Petit theft is theft of property that is valued at $300 or less.

If petit theft is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, then the property stolen was valued between $100 and $300, or it was the offender's second or subsequent offense for petit shoplifting.

A first-degree misdemeanor charge for petit theft is punishable by up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 fines.

Petit theft is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor when the value of the stolen property was less than $100. Second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to six (6) months in jail and up to $500 fines.

Most often, the first offense of petit theft is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor. If approved by the court, an offender may be allowed to perform public services designated by the court in lieu of fines for a second or subsequent petit theft offense.

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Shoplifting Charged as a Felony in Florida

Felony theft in Florida is considered grand theft. Grand theft charges can range from third to first-degree felonies based on the value of the property, or the kind of property, stolen. With regard to shoplifting, the level of the offense that the State of Florida charges is based on the value of the property in the following manner:

  • Third-degree grand theft – property valued from $300-$20,000;
  • Second-degree grand theft – property valued from $20,000 -$100,000;
  • First-degree grand theft – property valued at $100,000 or more.

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How can a Merchant Stop Shoplifting?

Under Florida law, merchants may engage in self-help to stop shoplifting. To stop a customer from shoplifting, merchants who have probable cause to believe that a retail theft, trespass, or unlawful use of any antishoplifting device has been committed, may take the alleged offender into custody to recover the allegedly stolen property.

Any attempted self-help recovery by a merchant must be done according to Fla. Stat. § 812.015(3)(a). Under Florida law, self-help must:

  • be reasonable; custody of an individual must be for a reasonable amount of time (generally until law enforcement arrives); and
  • be based on probable cause.

If an alleged offender resists a merchant's reasonable efforts to recover retail property, then the offender may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. If the retailer's self-help attempt is not reasonable under Florida law, however, the retailer may be subject to false imprisonment or false arrest charges.

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Additional Resources

812.015 Fla. Stat. – Visit Online Sunshine, the Official website of the Florida Legislature for a full list of useful definitions for understanding the Florida retail theft statute. Section 812.015 contains a list of definitions such as "merchandise" and "value," along with information on the circumstances in which a merchant may engage in "self-help" under Florida law.

Retail Theft – Visit the State of Florida Fifth Judicial Circuit to learn more about retail theft for juveniles under Florida law. The Youth Court provides an informational packet concerning shoplifting consequences, both civil and criminal, under Florida law. Find out information about how shoplifting affects the community and various facts about retail theft in Florida.

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Find an Attorney for Shoplifting in Broward County, FL

Individuals are often charged with shoplifting crimes due to a misunderstanding between the merchant and the customer. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight for your opportunity to be heard is crucial to avoid criminal charges.

The attorneys at Bacchus & Navarro have years of experience on both sides of the legal battle. We have attorneys who are former prosecutors who know the ins-and-outs of prosecuting retail crimes. Speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys if you or someone you know is facing charges in Broward County, or in the surrounding Miami-metropolitan areas of Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, Collier County, or Hendry County.

Our offices are centrally located at 401 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, just minutes from the Broward County Central Courthouse. We take cases in Miami, LaBelle, East Naples, and West Palm Beach, Florida.

Call (954) 500-5555 now for more information about how one of our experienced attorneys can help you.

This Article Was Last Updated on Thursday, April 13, 2017.

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