Can You Go to Jail for Stealing From Walmart?
There are a few different ways you can be charged with theft at a major retailer like Walmart, and a variety of consequences could follow. The punishment you receive will mainly depend on the value of the items you were alleged to have taken. But the question many people ask is: Can I go to jail for stealing from Walmart?
The Different Types of Walmart Theft
One of the most common theft-related charges at Walmart is petty theft of the second degree. For the theft to be considered second-degree, the stolen goods must be under $100. Today, people do not typically get arrested for this, but they do receive a notice to appear in court, and there is the possibility of going to jail for up to 60 days and receiving a $500 fine. Although jail is not likely, this does not mean that there are not consequences. For instance, having a permanent stain on your record can result in a struggle for employment for the rest of your life, regardless of what you stole or its value.
The second type of charge you can receive is petty theft of the first degree. For the theft to be considered first-degree, the goods stolen must be between $100 and $300. The stakes are now higher because you could be in jail for up to one year and receive a $1,000 fine. Fortunately, in Florida, people are rarely arrested for petty theft, but receiving a notice to appear is similar to an arrest. If convicted, you face a driver’s license suspension and potentially a lifetime struggle to find a job.
Do not think you will never face arrest for stealing at Walmart, however, because people are still commonly arrested for grand theft. For an act to be considered grand theft, the amount of goods stolen must be over $300. If you get caught stealing something valued at over $300 from Walmart, you are highly likely to go to jail and face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Since grand theft is a felony, you could lose your driver’s license, your right to carry a firearm, your right to vote (until you are reinstated), and even your professional license.
Common Defenses Against Theft Charges
One defense you can raise is that you made a mistake and had no intent of stealing from Walmart. For example, you might have been at self-checkout and forgot to scan an item.
Another common defense is arguing that you were in a rush and placed an item in your bag in the chaos. Perhaps you were at the store with kids and one of them took an item without your knowledge. If you can prove there was no intent to steal, you can often get the charged dropped.
In summation, there are many instances where stealing from Walmart will not result in jail time – unless the value of the stolen goods is above a certain amount – but that does not mean there will not be notable consequences. It is best to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer from The Umansky Law Firm if you have been charged with shoplifting in Florida.