On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
In Florida, shoplifting is considered a relatively minor offense. However, this crime is taken seriously by law enforcement and the court system.
Shoplifting simply means intentionally taking something from a store or shop without paying for it. In legal terms, the crime of shoplifting is generally defined by two characteristics. First, a shoplifter takes an item from a store and conceals it or removes it from the premises. Second, the shoplifter has a willful intent to take the item without paying for it while knowing that it belongs to the store or the owner.
These two characteristics mean that a person can be charged with shoplifting even if they do not make it out of the store with the merchandise. For example, in many places, simply concealing an item under clothing or in a bag without paying for it may be considered an intent to shoplift. Similarly, changing or removing price tags or labeling may be considered an attempt to take merchandise without paying the full price.
In most jurisdictions, shoplifting of relatively inexpensive items is a misdemeanor offense. This means that the legal punishment for shoplifting will probably include a small fine and possibly community service. For theft of expensive items or for a repeat offense, jail time of up to one year is possible. Repeat offenders may also be ordered to attend counseling or educational classes.
Even though a misdemeanor charge may not be as serious as a felony offense, it should still be taken seriously. A conviction could mean fines, jail time, and a criminal record. An experienced attorney may be able to negotiate with the court to allow the defendant to receive a clean criminal record in exchange for completing community service and paying a fine.
Findlaw, “Shoplifting“, November 25, 2014