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Shoplifting

Shoplifting is defined in Florida Statute 812.014. Shoplifting, or as it is otherwise known, “Retail Theft,” or “Petit Theft,” can be charged as both a misdemeanor, or a felony, depending on the value of the items the police claim you stole. The threshold to be charged with a felony is only $300.00, therefore any item(s) totaling $300 or more can result in a third degree felony or higher. In addition, Retail Theft is a charge that can be enhanced the more convictions you have. After a single conviction for retail theft, the State can charge you with a first degree misdemeanor. After two convictions, you can be charged with a felony.

In addition to being charged with a crime, Attorney Matt Thompson is finding that many of his clients charged with shoplifting are being pursued civilly as well, as many clients receive a letter from the establishment trying to collect money. Attorney Thompson has had success warding off the civil attorneys in trying to collect from his clients. Some of the stores known to have sent such letters are the Wal-Mart branches in both DeLand and Orange City, as well as the Target store in Orange City, Florida. In most cases, the property is recovered when the suspect is caught, therefore, Attorney Matt Thompson argues that the store did not suffer any damages, and often times he will threaten to file a countersuit for any attorney’s fees that will be incurred by his client if the store pursues his client for damages in civil court.

To prove the crime of shoplifting, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Defendant knowingly and unlawfully obtained or used, endeavored to obtain or use, the property of the victim; and

  2. The Defendant unlawfully obtained or used the property with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the victim or his or her use of the property, OR, appropriate the victim’s property to themselves or another person.

The charge of theft can be enhanced to a first degree felony if any of the following items are the subject of the taking, or if any of the following acts are committed during the taking:

  • The property taken has a value of $100,000.00. (Note: this includes just plain old money, and it does not necessarily need to be personal property).

  • A semi-trailer that was deployed by law enforcement;

  • Cargo valued at $50,000.00 or more that has entered the stream of interstate commerce;

  • If the offender commits any grand theft, and:

    • In the course of committing the grand theft the offender uses a motor vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle, as an instrumentality to assist in the commission of the crime. (Note: This excludes using the motor vehicle solely as a getaway vehicle).

    • In the course of committing the offense, the offender damages the victim’s property in excess of only $1,000.00. This would include “smash and grab” or “ransacking one’s home.”

The charge of theft can be enhanced to a second degree felony if any of the following items are the subject of the taking, or if any of the following acts are committed during the taking:

  • The property stolen is valued at $20,000.00 or more, but less than $100,000.00. (Note: this includes just plain old money, and it does not necessarily need to be personal property).

  • The property stolen is cargo valued at less than $50,000.00 that has entered the stream of interstate commerce;

  • The property stolen is medical equipment, valued at $300.00 or more, and is taken from a facility licensed under chapter 395, or from an aircraft or vehicle permitted under chapter 401; and

  • The property stolen is law enforcement equipment valued at $300.00 or more, that is taken from an emergency vehicle.

The charge of theft can be enhanced to a second degree felony if any of the following items are the subject of the taking, or if any of the following acts are committed during the taking:

  • The property is valued at $300.00, but less than $5,000.00.
    • Valued at $5,000.00, but less than $10,000.00.
    • Valued at $10,000.00, but less than $20,000.00.
  • A will or a codicil, or other testamentary instrument;
  • A firearm (regardless of market value);
  • A motor vehicle (regardless of market value);
  • Any commercially farmed animal;
  • Any fire extinguisher;
  • Any amount of citrus fruit consisting of $2,000.00 or more individual pieces of fruit.
  • Property taken from a construction site identified by the posting of signage;
  • Any stop sign;
  • Anhydrous ammonia;
  • Any amount of controlled substances.

The theft statute is designed to protect the special needs of the citizens of the State of Florida. With the number of citrus groves and farmland found in DeLand, Florida, the theft statute covers its bases and protects those who work in that industry.

State of Emergency

In addition to the specific language contained in the statute about farming, the theft statutes add additional enhanced punishments if a the crime of theft is committed during a State of Emergency. Hurricane Irma and Matthew both made landfall in 2017, and DeLand felt the effects of both of those hurricanes. Power was out for days, which means security systems were down as well as most telephones. People were unable to charge their cell phones and when they were charged, the signal was poor due to power outages at the telephone company itself. The people of DeLand and the neighboring cities were more susceptible to being victimized by those who were looking to take advantage. If any of the items or property are stolen when the Florida Governor has declared a State of Emergency, the crime will be enhanced from a third degree felony to a second degree felony.

Defending You for a Theft Charge

Thompson Law treats every client and every case with the individual attention needed. Theft cases, however, receive even more attention. A crime of theft, no matter how small, is considered as a “crime of dishonesty.” Having a conviction for a crime of dishonesty will have negative consequences on you going forward in trying to obtain future employment, dealing with family law issues, and if you are ever called to testify in court. Attorney Matt Thompson’s goal is to put you in a position that is as close to the position you were in before you were arrested. Thompson Law strives to keep our client’s slate clean after we conclude a case, and if you call Thompson Law for a free consultation, we will do the same for you.

Pretrial Diversion

If you have never been arrested before, or have never been arrested for theft, you may be eligible to participate in a pretrial diversion program. This is a helpful program offered by the State Attorney’s Office where you will essentially go onto a probation-style program, complete an anti-theft course, pay any restitution owed to the victim along with court costs and fines, and the State will dismiss the charges against you. This is important concerning the negative affects a crime of dishonesty will have in your future.

The Thompson Law Approach

Attorney Thompson knows that each case and each client is different, and there will never be a situation where you will be coupled with another case. Attorney Thompson takes the time to learn about you as an individual before deciding how to defend your case. Attorney Thompson limits the number of cases he takes to ensure that each client receives the personal attention they deserve. Take the time to let Attorney Thompson get to know the person you are by setting up a free consultation with Thompson Law by calling (386) 463-4LAW (4529) or toll free by calling (877) 934-4LAW (4529).

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