Our law firm routinely represents clients accused of shoplifting (also known as “retail theft”) in Miami and other counties. Surprisingly enough, our typical client of a shoplifting attorney is a professional with no prior contact with the criminal justice system. Although false arrests do occur (and are defended aggressively by our shoplifting defense attorneys), most shoplifting clients attempted to shoplift when loss prevention officers detained them. The client cannot explain their actions and is deeply ashamed and embarrassed. Our Miami shoplifting lawyers strive to minimize the effects and ramifications of charges or fines for shoplifting to allow our clients to put the case behind them and move on with their professional and personal lives.
Shoplifting Charges in Miami
Under Florida law, shoplifting charges in Florida are prosecuted under general theft crimes laws and a specific retail theft law, Florida Statute 812.015. When someone is caught shoplifting in Miami—or anywhere in Florida for that matter—they are charged with either petit theft (also known as “petty theft”) or grand theft under Florida Statute 812.014. A shoplifting defense attorney will want to know the value of the merchandise allegedly stolen because the punishment for shoplifting and the degree of the theft crime depends on the property’s value. If the value of the alleged stolen property is less than $100, the defendant faces the criminal charge of second-degree petit theft, a second-degree misdemeanor. If the merchandise value is between $100 and $750, the defendant is charged with petit larceny in the first degree, a first-degree misdemeanor. If the property’s value is $750 or more, but less than $20,000, the defendant would face a third-degree grand theft charge, a third-degree felony. If a person were somehow charged in a shoplifting case with stealing property with a value of more than $20,000 (but less than $100,000), they would face a second-degree grand theft charge.
Possible Punishments for Shoplifting in Miami
Florida criminal law defines crimes by the maximum jail sentence you can receive for the crime. Again, the punishments below are maximum sentences (It is improbable that you would receive the maximum—much less receive a criminal conviction or any jail time for shoplifting—if you hire a competent shoplifting defense lawyer):
Petit Theft in the Second Degree (property value is less than $100) – punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail.
Petit Theft in the First Degree (property value is $100 or more but less than $750) – punishable by a maximum of 364 days in the county jail.
Grand Theft in the Third Degree (property value is $750 or more but less than $20,000) – punishable by a maximum of 5 years in state prison.
In addition to a possible jail sentence, a person convicted of shoplifting in Miami can have their driver’s license suspended for up to six months on a first conviction and up to one year on a second shoplifting conviction.
Defenses to Shoplifting Charges
To prove a shoplifting charge, the prosecution must show that the defendant intended to commit theft. The fact that you may have left the store with an item in plain sight indicates that you were probably absent-minded, not intending to steal. Having a cold, being tired, or even being a little intoxicated could have contributed to your behavior. Some people even get home before realizing they had inadvertently taken something without paying for it. On the other hand, if a store employee observes someone concealing an item, it is more likely that they intended to commit theft.
Sometimes, people place items at the bottom of their shopping carts when they are shopping. Some people are detained by store security on their way back to the store after realizing they had mistakenly taken something. The intent to permanently deprive the store of the property is essential in a shoplifting case. You might be able to argue that you were arrested before you were able to bring something back. Some people are even charged with shoplifting when they are in the process of returning items they previously paid for. In these cases, store surveillance video showing them entering the store with the items can cause the prosecutor to dismiss the case.
Finally, store security employees sometimes make mistakes. They might misidentify someone as being the person who stole an item or think a person is shoplifting when they actually aren’t. Even simple things like the angle of their view can affect their perspective. The footage from security cameras isn’t always reliable, either. The video can often be grainy or shot at a weird angle. In these cases, you need a skilled attorney to analyze all of the evidence in the case to see if it conflicts with the loss prevention officer’s testimony.
Contact an Experienced Miami Shoplifting Attorney
If you or someone you love has been arrested or charged with shoplifting or retail theft in Miami-Dade County or anywhere else in South Florida, it is critical to consult with an experienced Miami shoplifting attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected. You need the legal advice of one of our experienced shoplifting lawyers to guide you through the process and maximize your chances of resolving your criminal case with a favorable outcome.
Over the years, we have represented hundreds of clients in shoplifting cases in Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach. There is a good chance that we have dealt with your type of case and have represented clients who shared similar needs and concerns. By taking immediate action of hiring a shoplifting lawyer to defend yourself, you are minimizing the chances that your shoplifting case will have lasting consequences for your career, personal life, and reputation. CALL US for a FREE CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION at (305) 538-4545, or take a moment to fill out our secure intake form. *The additional information you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry.
*Due to the large number of people who contact our law office requesting our assistance in theft crime cases, it is strongly suggested that you take the time to provide us with specific details regarding your case by filling out our confidential and secure intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry promptly and appropriately.
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