Leaving a store with unpurchased items does not always mean you will not face charges for shoplifting. Sometimes it can take days or weeks for the store to take action.
They may present evidence to the police, warranting a notice to appear in court to face charges or even an arrest. However, shoplifting charges are not always valid.
Charges for shoplifting in Florida
A shoplifting charge can be a misdemeanor or felony. The value of the stolen item and the number of previous shoplifting offenses determines the charge’s level:
- Items under $100 warrant a second-degree misdemeanor for the first charge, a first-degree misdemeanor for the second and a third-degree felony after that.
- Items more than $100 but less than $300 produce a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Anything valued over $300 but less than $5,000 is grand theft, a felony charge.
If found guilty, the consequences can range from 60 days in jail with a $500 fine to as much as five years in prison with a $5,000 fine. However, everyone has the opportunity to offer a defense in court.
Common defenses for shoplifting
In Florida, lack of intent is the most common argument against a shoplifting charge. To make this defense valid, you would need to provide evidence that there was no criminal intent to participate in theft. Mistake of fact is another possible defense. In this case, you honestly and reasonably believed the item belonged to you or believed you already paid for it.
Shoplifting is a serious charge, but sometimes it is an honest mistake.