Shoplifting Laws in Florida

Shoplifting, as defined by Florida Statute 812.015, involves actions such as taking possession of merchandise, altering or removing price tags, transferring merchandise to another container, or removing a shopping cart with the intent to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value.

HB 549 & Retail Theft in Florida

In 2024, Florida’s governor signed House Bill 549, which increased penalties for retail theft. It addresses both taking property from stores and packages from outside people’s homes. The bill becomes effective October 1, 2024.

It includes penalties making organized shoplifting—involving five people or more—a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison or 15 years in prison if social media is used to get others to participate. It also allows prosecutors to charge a felony if a person commits multiple shoplifting crimes within 120 days.

Shoplifting Penalties in Pensacola, FL

The consequences, if convicted of shoplifting in Florida mostly, depend on the value of the merchandise and whether you have a history of retail theft. Following are potential current penalties for shoplifting crimes in Florida based on property value:

Property worth less than $100.

If the property involved in the shoplifting incident is worth less than $100, the offense is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Property worth between $100 and $300.

Shoplifting property valued between $100 and $300 is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for this offense include up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Property Over $300 and less than $5,000

When the value of the shoplifted property exceeds $300 but is less than $5,000, it is classified as a third-degree felony. This serious offense is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Can Retail Theft Be a Felony in Florida?

If you have prior convictions for retail theft, a misdemeanor charge could become a felony. Additionally, depending on the specific charge, your driver’s license may be suspended, you will likely have to pay restitution, and you could face other consequences.

Shoplifting Penalties for First-Time Offenders

Adult first-time shoplifting offenders may be able to participate in diversion programs rather than being sentenced to jail. Whether you are eligible can depend on the dollar value involved. Alternative programs can include:

  • Counseling
  • Education courses about retail theft
  • Community service

If it’s your first shoplifting offense, a retail theft defense attorney will help you understand whether you are eligible for these options and the requirements.

Shoplifting Penalties for Minors

People under 18 who are charged with shoplifting are often treated more leniently than adults. Juveniles may be given probation or offered opportunities to perform community service, attend counseling, pay the store back for what they took, or a combination.

But the legal system is not always so forgiving. Repeat juvenile theft offenders or those who take high-dollar property may be placed in a Florida juvenile detention center.

If your minor child has been arrested for shoplifting, do not wait to get the help of a Pensacola shoplifting attorney to answer your questions and help assure the most favorable result for the situation.

How a Shoplifting Lawyer Helps

A conviction for shoplifting affects your future in many ways. Besides possible jail or prison time and fines, your personal and professional life can suffer. After a retail theft arrest and conviction, you may have trouble getting employment, professional licensing, housing, financial aid, or college admission.

Lead attorney Josef Mitkevicius has handled thousands of criminal cases over 10 years in practice. He understands the stress and uncertainty that individuals experience when arrested for shoplifting in Pensacola, FL. There is frustration and fear when you know you are innocently accused or recognize you have made a terrible mistake that could impact you for the rest of your life. He will compassionately guide you toward the most beneficial outcome based on the facts and evidence. 

We’ve successfully resolved many theft cases:

  • Dismissal of petit theft charge for client-facing 1 year in jail.
  • No jail in petty theft case; resolved by paying court costs.
  • Dismissal involving petit theft and resisting arrest with violence.

More Results

Defenses for Shoplifting Charges 

When we represent you against shoplifting charges, we will build a tailored defense that makes the most sense based on the evidence in your case. Here are some examples of defenses in shoplifting cases:

Lack of Criminal Intent

If you were distracted with too many things on your mind and walked out of a store holding an item without paying, it can be argued you were not intentionally stealing. There was no criminal intent behind taking the item, and you did not mean to deprive the store of it.

Misconduct by Store Security or Police

If your rights were violated by the store’s loss prevention officers or police when you were detained, we may be able to build a misconduct defense. In this situation, evidence of the theft may not be admissible.

Challenging Insufficient Evidence

This defense could involve challenging surveillance footage or testimony from eyewitnesses. We may be able to show that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a shoplifting crime occurred. In this case, your case could potentially be dismissed.

Florida Shoplifting FAQs.

What are my rights if I am detained for shoplifting?

If you are detained for shoplifting, you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to talk to store security or law enforcement without an attorney. You have the right to refuse a search by store security of your person or bags. They are required to call the police to conduct the investigation and must wait for them to arrive. Be sure to inform your lawyer if you believe your rights were violated by store personnel or police when detained.

Can shoplifting charges be expunged?

Your charges may be expungable from your record if you were not convicted. If charges were dismissed, you completed a pre-trial diversion program, and have not had other arrests or convictions, you could be eligible. A lawyer will look at the factors in your matter to determine whether your record can be expunged and help you with the process.

Can I be charged with shoplifting if I forgot to pay for an item?

You can be charged with shoplifting in Florida if you mistakenly leave a store without paying. However, while you may face charges, the prosecution must prove intent to get a conviction. A retail theft defense attorney can help you show that you accidentally left the store with an item and had no intention of stealing it.

Can a store sue me for shoplifting?

Yes—in addition to the criminal penalties you face, you can be sued by the store in civil court. If the store is successful in its lawsuit, you could be liable for three times the value of the stolen items, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees.

Fight Your Shoplifting Charge – Call Today

A conviction for shoplifting in Florida is no small thing. Besides criminal penalties, your honesty and ethics will be questioned. But with a skilled and dedicated Pensacola retail theft lawyer, you can give yourself a strong chance of getting the most favorable outcome possible. Let Mitkevicius Law, PLLC, review your options and stand up for you. 

With 10+ years of experience and a record of success in shoplifting cases, contact Pensacola attorney Josef Mitkevicius today at 850-361-2142 for a free consultation.