Shoplifting, or retail theft, is a crime that occurs when somebody takes merchandise from a store without paying for it.
There is no "shoplifting" offense in Florida, in and of itself. The charge is a theft crime, depending on the value of the item.
Retail thefts are typically proven through the eyewitness accounts of store security officers, or loss prevention officers (LPOs). Sometimes, there is surveillance video available. In other instances, an accused person will walk past all points of sale (cash registers), and the alarm at the door will sound. Once store security catches up to the person, they may find unpaid items on the accused person.
Theft is an intent crime, meaning that the State must prove that the accused intended to steal the items. Oftentimes, people may place items in their shopping carts or in bags and forget to pay for them. This is a defense to a shoplifting offense.
The value of the item will determine the charge. If the item is valued at less than $100, the charge is petit theft (second degree), and is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
If the item is valued at over $100 but less than $300, the charge is still petit theft, but it is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail.
You may also be charged with a first degree misdemeanor even if the value is less than $100 if you have a prior conviction for petit theft.
If the item or items are valued at over $300 but less than $20,000, the charge is grand theft third degree. This is a felony and you will be arrested rather than issued a written PTA (promise to appear).
Retail thefts over $20,000 are rare, but if you are accused of stealing from a very high-end store, it is possible that a few purses or pieces of jewelry may be worth more than $20,000.
From $20,000 to $100,000 in value, the charge is grand theft second degree, and is a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Over $100,000 is grand theft first degree, a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Penalties range from Pretrial Intervention or Pretrial Diversion up to state prison, depending on your priors and the value of the item(s).
I am a criminal defense attorney who represents clients charged with all forms of shoplifting here in Miami-Dade and Broward.
Call me to discuss the best options for your case.