If you find yourself being charged with retail theft, you are probably feeling hopeless and are wondering what to do. You may believe that fighting such an allegation is an uphill battle. However, there is a viable solution here when you work with an experienced theft attorney.
Whether you were taken into custody from the store or were charged well after leaving the establishment, a tenacious Clermont shoplifting lawyer could provide you with a superior defense, resulting in either a reduction or dismissal of your charges.
Under Florida Code § 812.015, retail theft is when a person allegedly possesses property of a retail store in which tags have been removed or changed, or the item has not been paid for, and the person intends to take the retail property for their own use and benefit. This offense is also commonly referred to as shoplifting, and penalties vary based on the degree and classification of the charge. In Florida, there are generally five categories of shoplifting.
First, the alleged shoplifting of items amounting to less than $100 is a misdemeanor in the second degree and can come with fees up to $500 and 60 days in jail. Second, if a person is found with retail property valued at more than $100, but less than $300, they are charged a first-degree misdemeanor with fines around $1,000 and potentially one year in jail.
Felony allegations of shoplifting come with more hefty penalties. For example, a first-degree felony can come with fines of around $10,000 and possibly up to 30 years in prison. The value of retail items for this charge must be more than $100,000.
Fees for a second degree are around the same amount for a first-degree charge and up to a decade and a half in prison. The property value for a second-degree retail charge is anywhere between $20,000 and $100,000.
For a third-degree retail theft felony with fees around $5,000 and potentially up to five years in prison, when convicted of taking items valued between $300 and $20,000.
A respectable Clermont shoplifting attorney could provide further details on potential penalties an individual might face based on the degree and circumstances surrounding their charge.
There are a variety of defenses to allegations of retail theft that can result in either a reduction of penalties or an outright dismissal of the charges. Some common defenses are:
Entrapment in the context of retail theft is an affirmative defense. By affirmative defense, a person states that if an offense was committed, the retail owner or workers induced the person to commit the offense. For example, this could be a retail worker intentionally not removing the security tag.
A defense of entrapment could open the door to assert that a person did not intentionally mean to take items. It could be a situation where the clerk forgot to scan one of the retail items, and as a result, it appeared as if the person meant to take it. Furthermore, when the store brought this to the person’s attention, they may have promptly returned the item.
Another defense is that the prosecutor lacks sufficient proof to convict a person of any charge of retail theft. It is also a common occurrence where a person is mistakenly identified as taking property, when in fact, it was someone else who was able to leave the store because the wrong person was apprehended.
A shoplifting lawyer in Clermont could successfully assert defenses on behalf of those fighting charges of retail theft.
Some people are charged with shoplifting without even having been arrested in the moment. If you need a top-notch defense, you could benefit from the legal services of a Clermont shoplifting lawyer. The Umansky Law Firm is here when you need us and can provide you with a case assessment as soon as possible. Call us or fill out a contact form to learn your options.
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