Retail Theft

(Shoplifting)

Retail Theft, sometimes referred to as Shoplifting, is taking or attempting to take merchandise from a retail establishment with no intention to pay for the merchandise that was taken.

Definition of Retail Theft in Florida

The crime of Retail Theft, as defined by § 812.015, Florida Statues, is taking, attempting to take, or carrying away merchandise, property, or a shopping cart, from a merchant, shop owner, or retail establishment without paying the full retail price at the time of the Retail Theft for the merchandise or property.

The State’s attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime of Retail Theft by establishing both of the following elements of the crime:

(1) The defendant knowingly and intentionally took or attempted to take possession of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents from a retail establishment. Retail Theft includes: (a) altering or removing the label, UPC or price tag; or (b) repackaging merchandise into a different container or hiding merchandise inside other merchandise; or (c) removing a shopping cart from the merchant’s premise; or (d) any similar act with the intent of depriving the merchant of the possession, use, benefit or full retail value of the merchandise.

This means the State of Florida must show that the defendant with knowledge and understanding voluntarily and intentionally removed or attempted to remove any merchandise or property meant for delivery, display, or sale by a merchant.

(2) The defendant intended to deprive the merchant of the use, benefit, or full retail value of the merchandise, money, or property

This means the State of Florida must show that in removing or attempting to remove any merchandise or property from a merchant’s premises, the defendant intended that the merchant would not be able to use or benefit from the delivery, display or sale of the merchandise.

Penalties for Retail Theft in Florida

A person who commits retail theft of $300 or more commits a third degree felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years and up to $5000 in fines, as provided in § 775.082 or § 775.083, Florida Statutes.

Any person who participates within a 48-hour period in a theft from multiple locations, or participates in a coordinated effort with other(s), and the combined value of the stolen merchandise exceeds $300, commits a third degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5000 in fines, as provided in § 775.082 or § 775.083, Florida Statutes.

Any person who possesses, uses, or attempts to use any anti-shoplifting or inventory control device countermeasure within a premises used for the retail purchase or sale of merchandise commits a third degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5000 in fines, as provided in § 775.082 or § 775.083, Florida Statutes.

A person with a previous conviction for retail theft commits a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, as provided in § 775.082 or § 775.083, Florida Statutes.

A person who commits retail theft of less than $300 commits Petit Theft.

Defenses to Retail Theft in Florida
  • Merchandise was not removed from the retail establishment
  • Mistakenly leaving the retail establishment without paying, such as forgetting about an item placed underneath the shopping cart or in a stroller while paying for everything else
  • Exiting a retail establishment without any intention to steal, such as to go to your car to retrieve a purse, wallet, or credit card needed in order to pay
Examples of Retail Theft in Florida
  • Intentionally leaving a retail establishment without paying for all merchandise obtained in the store
  • Deliberately attempting to bypass anti-shoplifting or inventory control devices
  • Altering or removing a label, UPC or price tag in order to pay a lower price, or to create the impression you own the item, with the intention of leaving the retail establishment without paying for the item(s)
  • Repackaging an item in another item’s package with the intention of paying less than the current price of the repackaged item
  • Intentionally hiding an item inside a larger item and knowingly paying only for the larger item, such as intentionally placing jewelry or electronics inside a purse or backpack, then paying only for the purse or backpack
  • Intentionally putting on a clothing item from the retail establishment then covering it with your own clothing with the intention of leaving the retail establishment without paying for the clothing item
  • Either individually, or coordinated with the retail establishment’s employee, ringing up fewer items, or ringing up items at a discount not approved by the merchant, with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use, benefit or full retail value of the merchandise
Contact Us

If you have been charged with the crime of Retail Theft in Broward, Palm Beach, or Miami-Dade County, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney right away to ensure your rights are protected. The Law Office of Sean Clayton, P.A., can help you better understand your situation and your options. Contact us today for your free consultation.