Shoplifting Charges in Florida

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in Florida. Find out if you can avoid a conviction and criminal record.

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Shoplifters in Florida face serious criminal penalties, including jail time and fines. In addition, shoplifters can be sued for damages in civil court by victimized merchants.

Florida Shoplifting Laws

Shoplifting in Florida is referred to as retail theft. Retail theft can be committed in a variety of ways, including:

  • taking possession of or carrying away the property of a merchant;
  • altering labels or price tags;
  • transferring merchandise from one container to another;
  • or removing a shopping cart
  • with intent to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value.

Merchants with probable cause that a person has committed shoplifting can detain the person in a reasonable manner, for a reasonable amount of time, in order to retrieve the goods or prosecute the suspect. Criminal and civil penalties for shoplifting are described below.

Florida Shoplifting Criminal Penalties

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of less than $100

Second degree petit theft (second degree misdemeanor)

Fines up to $500; up to 60 days in jail

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of $100 or more but less than $300; shoplifting property with a value of less than $100 if the person charged has previously been convicted once of any theft

First degree petit theft  (first degree misdemeanor)

Fines up to $1,000; up to 1 year in jail

Second or subsequent conviction of petit theft shoplifting

First or second degree petit theft (first or second degree misdemeanor)

Fine between $50 and $1,000--court may substitute public service for fine; up to 60 days in jail or up to 1 year in jail

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of more than $300 and less than $20,000; or if the item taken is a firearm or certain other items

Third degree grand theft (third degree felony)

Fines up to $5,000; up to five years in prison

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of more than $20,000 and less than $100,000

Second degree grand theft (second degree felony)

Fines up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of more than $100,000, or if in the course of a grand theft the offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000

First degree grand theft (first degree felony)

Fines up to $10,000 and up to 30 years in prison

Civil Penalties

Merchants can sue adult and emancipated minor shoplifters (or the parents or legal guardians of unemancipated minor shoplifters) in civil court for:

  • three times the actual damages sustained (with a minimum of $200 in damages);
  • reasonable attorney’s fees; and
  • court costs.

The merchant must first make a written demand, and if the shoplifter responds and pays the damages within 30 days, they will be released from liability.  

Plea Bargains and Pretrial Diversion Programs

Some counties in Florida allow certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes to participate in pretrial diversion programs. If an accused fulfills the requirements of the program, which could include restitution and community service, the criminal charges against them will be dropped.

If diversion is not available, it may be possible for the accused to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor.  Plea bargains typically involve obtaining lesser charges and lesser sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea, at the discretion of the prosecutor.

Getting Help

If you have been charged with shoplifting, strongly consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can explain possible defenses, help to pursue pretrial diversion or negotiate a plea bargain, and otherwise assist in minimizing the impact of the charges.

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