Petty Theft and Retail Theft or Shoplifting
Being accused of retail theft, petit theft, or shoplifting in the Tampa Bay Area is a serious allegation; as such, you should contact an experienced and skilled lawyer at The Mayberry Law Firm immediately. As we’ve discussed in our “theft crimes” section of our website, all allegations of crimes of dishonesty should be taken very seriously. The Tampa-based criminal attorneys at The Mayberry Law Firm have prosecuted and defended hundreds of cases like these, so it is safe to say they know what to expect. With this experience comes a tailored understanding of how best to position our clients for the best resolution of their cases. Sometimes, the best option available is a not guilty verdict after trial, while other cases will lend themselves to a pretrial diversion program, or a plea resulting in a withhold of adjudication—allowing our client to then seal his or her record. Mitigation of charges such as these are often the best option, and our lawyers know how to advise our clients when the facts are not favorable for trial. Throughout your case, we will be taking steps each week to ensure that even a small mistake or a false allegation doesn’t follow you for the rest of your life.
Florida codifies this crime in the Florida Statutes as:
- A person who knowingly obtains, uses, or endeavors to obtain or use the property of another, with intent to temporarily or permanently;
- Deprive the other person of their right to the property or a benefit of such property, or;
- Appropriates the property to his or her own use, or for the use of any person who is 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 is defined generally in Florida Criminal Jury Instruction 14.4 as occurring when an individual enters a store and:
- Knowingly takes possession of or carries away merchandise from a store, or;
- Alters or removes a price tag or label from the merchandise, or;
- Transfers the merchandise from one container to another, or;
- Removes a shopping cart from the store’s premises,
All with the intent to deprive the merchant of the use, possession, benefit, or full retail value of that merchandise or shopping cart. More simply put, an allegation like this is an allegation that you stole something from a retail store.Diversion Program
Regardless of the item alleged to have been stolen or the value of its amount, a charge for a crime of dishonesty is serious because of the weight it holds with it. Being convicted of a crime of dishonesty can damage your chances at employment. 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 only 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 do not tolerate a theft, large retailers have a zero tolerance policy for theft, and there isn’t much that infuriates private citizens more than the notion that they have their belongings have been stolen. If you are someone on the unfortunate end of this allegation, it is imperative that you call a skilled and aggressive criminal attorney to represent your interest. Contact us today at 813-444-7435.