Defending Against Shoplifting Charges In The Orlando, Florida Area: What You Need To Know
The Orlando area’s reputation as a vast commercial retail hub also makes it a popular target for shoplifters and organized shoplifting syndicates. Overall, an estimated $68 billion in merchandise was stolen from U.S. stores in 2019 via shoplifting and “smash and grab” tactics, and this trend has been particularly pronounced in Florida. To protect the billions of dollars worth of merchandise sitting on the state’s store shelves, Florida’s Attorney General recently created a task force to target organized retail theft rings across the state.
With state and local law enforcement agencies on high alert for shoplifters, this can put individual shoppers in the crosshairs. A mistakenly-placed piece of merchandise can lead to a criminal arrest in some cases, even if you are innocent. This situation can be especially traumatic for visitors to the area, who have seen a short vacation turn into a lengthy legal ordeal.
What Florida Prosecutors Must Prove in a Shoplifting Case
Under Florida’s theft statute, a person may commit theft if they knowingly obtain an item with the intent to deprive another of the property, or a benefit from the property. The key words are “knowingly” and “intent” – there must be some kind of intentional act and the defendant must have known they were attempting to steal. Furthermore, prosecutors must be able to prove these elements at trial.
Potential Penalties for Shoplifting in Florida
Penalties for shoplifting in Florida depend on the value of what was stolen, and the nature of the property stolen (retail merchandise vs. medical equipment, for example). Theft of property worth less than $100, for example, could bring a second-degree Petit Theft charge and potential jail time up to 60 days. Higher valued items could lead to first-degree Petit Theft charges (up to a year in jail) or even Grand Theft charges with felony prison time of up to 5 years.
In addition to jail time, fines, and other court-imposed penalties, a shoplifting defendant can face serious and lasting harm to their reputation, job prospects, and other lost opportunities due to a criminal conviction.
Potential Causes of a Shoplifting Charge and Defenses
The penalties described here are high prices to pay for what may have been an innocent mix-up at a retail store. For example, your child may have placed products in your bag or purse without your knowledge, or you may have swiped an item through a self-checkout scanner without the machine picking up the price. From these simple mistakes can come run-ins with loss prevention officers, then a court date and criminal charges. In these situations, you want an aggressive and skilled shoplifting defense attorney at your side.
The Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys at Joshi Law, PA, Can Defend Against Shoplifting Charges
The attorneys at Joshi Law Firm, PA, know the ins and outs of Florida law and know what prosecutors must prove in Florida shoplifting cases. Even if you find yourself in a difficult legal situation due to some misunderstanding, we can help you navigate your way to a speedy resolution to the process in many cases. Don’t hesitate to meet with an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney that can review all the issues and facts of your case.