Petty Theft and Retail Theft or Shoplifting

If you’ve been accused of petty theft, retail theft or shoplifting in Tampa or a surrounding area, please contact an experienced and skilled lawyer at The Mayberry Law Firm immediately. As we’ve discussed in our “theft crimes” section of our website, any allegation a crime of dishonesty should be taken very seriously. Each Tampa criminal attorney in The Mayberry Law Firm has prosecuted and defended hundreds of cases of the like. With this experience comes a specialized understanding of how best to position our clients to get the best possible resolution in their case, whether that is a not guilty verdict after trial, a pretrial diversion program, or a plea resulting in a withhold of adjudication so our client can then seal his or her record. Our lawyers know exactly what to advise to mitigate these charges when the facts are not favorable for trial. Every week we take the steps necessary to ensure one small mistake or false allegation doesn’t haunt you for the rest of your life.

Florida codifies this crime under Florida Statute as:

  1. A person knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or use, the property of another with the intent to temporarily or permanently;
  2. Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit of the property,
  3. Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.

In reality, the primary determination of whether you will be charged with a felony or misdemeanor depends on the value of the item alleged to be stolen. For purposes of a misdemeanor analysis, if the value of the item taken is less than $100 and was not taken from a dwelling you will be looking at second degree misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. If the value of the item alleged to have been stolen is $100 or more but less than $300 and not taken from a dwelling you will face a first degree misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 11 months, 29 days in county jail and a $1000 fine.

Retail theft or shoplifting, according to Florida Criminal Jury Instruction 14.4 generally occurs when an individual enters a store and:

  1. knowingly takes possession of or carries away merchandise from the store, or;
  2. alters or removes a label or price tag from the merchandise, or;
  3. transfers merchandise from one container to another, or;
  4. removes a shopping cart from a merchant’s premises,

all while intending to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value of the merchandise or shopping cart. Otherwise stated, an allegation like this is an allegation that you stole something from a retail store.


Regardless of the item alleged to have been stolen or the value amount of that item, any charge for a crime of dishonesty is serious. Any crime of dishonesty will grossly damage your chance of employment if you’re convicted. Fortunately, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, Manatee County and Sarasota County have pretrial diversion programs designed to allow an individual to complete certain minimal requirements including paying restitution, attend a theft class, and perform possible public service hours in exchange for their charges being dropped. This program is generally available to those who have no prior criminal history or one that has no disqualifying prior charges. Often this is a great resolution as it has the potential to enable you to immediately petition the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for an expungement of your record as it relates to this charge.

Employers won’t tolerate a theft, large retailers have a zero tolerance policy, and there isn’t much that infuriates a private citizen more than the notion that they’ve been stolen from. If you’re on the unfortunate end of this kind of allegation, you need an experienced and aggressive criminal lawyer to represent your interest. Contact us today at 813-444-7435.