Misdemeanor vs. Felony Shoplifting in Florida: Learn Your Rights
Posted on July 10, 2013 in: Petit Theft/Grand Theft
Shoplifting in Florida penalties depend on whether the person was a first-time offender or a repeat offender. It is also based on the amount of merchandise taken and if there were other factors involved in the Miami Beach crime, such as the use of a weapon or violence. Especially if weapons or violence were part of the charge, theft attorneys should be contacted.
It’s not just taking an item without paying for it that may lead to shoplifting in Florida charges. Even acts such as altering or changing price tags could be considered theft.
Although statistics aren’t available on shoplifting in Florida rates, according to City Rating, theft is one of the most common types of crimes committed. In 2010 there were 458,454 incidences of larceny and theft.
Petty Theft vs. Grand Theft in Florida
Shoplifting in Florida that involves merchandise valued between $40 and $400 is considered petty theft. Offenders may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
Penalties for petit theft could include fines up to $400, imprisonment or both. The maximum sentence that can be given is 16 months’ jail time, which is usually only given to repeat offenders.
When the merchandise is greater than $400, it is considered grand theft. Persons can be charged with a misdemeanor vs. felony charge. However, rarely is a misdemeanor charge given for grand theft. When it is, generally it’s for a first time offender.
Penalties for grand theft could include several months in jail or even several months in a state prison. Fines will be much higher for this type of shoplifting.
Misdemeanor Shoplifting in Florida
In the state of Florida, sometimes a person charged with misdemeanor shoplifting can enter into a program called pre-trial intervention. This keeps the conviction off his or her record and avoids jail time.
However, fees for the program need to be paid and restitution still needs to be made. In some cases, the individual also may be required to attend a rehabilitation counseling program.
Felony shoplifting charges may be assigned when the value of the merchandise is $400 or more. However, it becomes a second-degree felony when the value is $3,000 or greater.
With a second-degree felony charge, there are no allowances given to first time offenders. Prison time could be as long as 15 years.
The penalty could be stiffer if the act of shoplifting included the use of a weapon, such as holding a cashier up with a gun, or if in the process of stealing, someone was injured.
Theft attorneys may be able to help defend the rights of an individual charged with shoplifting. It could mean getting charges reduced or dismissed.
There are several possible defenses that could be considered. For instance, let’s say a mother was inside an Apple Store and a young child accidentally slipped an item in her bag.
Or there is a question as to the validity of stopping the person in the first place. There may be a legitimate cause of concern as to whether it was justified or not. Unfortunately, racial profiling may happen in shoplifting cases.
In sum, after an arrest for shoplifting, the accused will be reviewed based upon prior theft record, amount of the item(s) stolen, and if the crime included assault — either physical or just insinuated. It is not uncommon for a person to be accused inaccurately of theft for a variety of reasons, two common ones being ignorance of the situation as it occurs and racial profiling. To ensure the accused’s rights are upheld in a case that could be either Miami Beach misdemeanor or felony after shoplifting in Florida, hiring theft attorneys is often the smartest move.
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