Fort Lauderdale Shoplifting Lawyer
Shoplifting is a term generally used by people to describe when a person deprives a merchant of their property. Shoplifting charges are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. As with any theft crime in Florida, the severity of the charges will depend on the value of the property taken. The offense of retail theft is largely misunderstood in the state. For example, the term ‘shoplifting’ does not actually appear in the Florida Statutes but instead, the law uses the term retail theft. If you or someone you love has been charged, it is critical that you speak to a Fort Lauderdale shoplifting lawyer.
Defining Shoplifting in Fort Lauderdale
Shoplifting, or retail theft in Fort Lauderdale is defined as taking or carrying away the property of a merchant, but a person does not have to remove goods to be charged with the offense. Removing or altering product codes, price tags, or labels is also considered retail theft under the law. Additionally, transferring merchandise from one package or container to another is also considered shoplifting under the law.
The prosecution often charges retail theft as a petit theft offense when the value of the property stolen was under $300. This offense is considered a misdemeanor. However, when the value of the property stolen was over $300, the prosecution will move forward with felony charges of grand theft.
Even when a person is charged and convicted of petit theft, they could still be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail. A Fort Lauderdale shoplifting lawyer can help those accused avoid these charges.
Defenses to Shoplifting in Fort Lauderdale
To secure a conviction for shoplifting, the prosecution must prove the defendant had the intention to deprive a merchant of their property. This is often very difficult to prove and can provide the necessary defense a person needs. When arguing a case, a criminal defense lawyer may make the following arguments:
- The defendant left the store with the merchandise by mistake
- The defendant forgot about items placed in their cart
- The defendant did not leave the store to steal, such as when they went to retrieve a purse or wallet
- The defendant was set up by someone else, such as a co-defendant
- Video surveillance caused a factual dispute, such as mistaken identity
In addition, if it is the first time a person is facing criminal charges, they may be eligible for a pre-trial diversion program. After entering the program, defendants must meet certain obligations, such as community service or completing educational classes. Once the defendant has successfully completed the program, the charges are expunged, which can help shield the accused from long-term consequences, such as not being able to find gainful employment.
Call a Fort Lauderdale Shoplifting Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love has been charged with retail theft, I am the Fort Lauderdale shoplifting lawyer that can provide the defense you need. I am Kevin J. Kulik, and I have helped many clients beat their shoplifting charges, and I will put my experience to work for you, too. Call me today at 954-761-9411 or contact my law firm online to schedule a free confidential consultation.