What are the Shoplifting Laws in Florida?
Shoplifting is a kind of theft, often committed in retail establishments by visiting customers or store employees however, it is distinct from robbery or burglary. Under shoplifting, the person steals items from the store and many a time the act goes unnoticed. The person committing the act generally conceals the item in his pocket, on the person, in a bag or under his clothes and leaves the store without paying for the same.
Taking off or changing a security tag, changing price tags, transferring merchandise and/or stealing a cart belonging to the store also come under shoplifting, also called ‘retail theft’. In Florida, shoplifting is considered a serious theft and the act may fall under any of the two categories, Petit theft and Grand theft. The charge and sentence for Florida shoplifting however depend upon the value of the goods stolen.
Shoplifters face stern penalties in the state of Florida. Moreover, the accused can be sued for loss or damages by the victimized retailers in the civil court.
Florida Shoplifting Laws and Penalties
Petit theft involves shoplifting goods of lesser value (not more than $100). In Florida, it is a second-degree misdemeanor under which the shoplifter will be required to serve 60 days in prison along with a fine of $500. Under the first-degree petit theft, the value of goods stolen would be over $100 but under $300. This carries up to 12 months in prison coupled with a fine of $1000.
It is generally not easy to shoplift heavy and expensive goods; therefore, most cases fall under petit theft.
- Grand Theft in Florida is a third-degree misdemeanor. It applies when the value of goods stolen is between $300-$20,000. The person charged with this third-degree felony is sentenced up to 5 years in prison along with which he will be required to pay a fine of up to $5000.
- If goods were stolen are valued between $20,000-$1,00,000, it is considered a second-degree grand theft. The shoplifter in such cases will be sentenced up to 15 years in jail and charged a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the shoplifter causes damage to the personal or real property of the merchant during the course of grand theft, it will be considered a first-degree felony and the accused will be required to serve 30 years in jail and pay a fine of up to $10,000.
Shoplifting might seem petty crime but the retail industry in the U.S truly cannot afford the losses. In fact, the industry is said to experience a $50 billion loss each year due to shoplifting. It is for this reason that states across the U.S have devised stringent laws to deal with it.
Are you charged with shoplifting?
Being charged with shoplifting can land you in trouble when dealing with any other issue. If you are confident that the incident happened without your knowledge, you can get in touch with a Florida legal professional.
Merchants can detain the shoplifter in a reasonable manner if he has sufficient evidence or causes to believe that the person has stolen goods from his store.
Merchants can sue minor shoplifters (guardians or parents of minors) in civil court for:
- Reasonable lawyer’s fees
- Three times the actual loss amount
- Court costs
The merchant should first demand in writing; if the shoplifter pays for the damages within a month, he shall be set free from liability.
Florida state deals very seriously with the shoplifters. Subsequent charges, in particular, will lead to serious consequences that might truly harm the reputation and social status of the accused.
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