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Beginner's Guide to Theft

A random keychain, a cute shirt, or even a can of beer or stick of gum. Shoplifting, known as theft under Florida Statutes, is a common charge that first-time clients encounter. After your arrest, you may hear a number of stories or myths about how theft charges work and whether they can be proven. Here are a few common questions regarding theft cases: This is my first theft case, why is it a felony? Theft cases are charged three different ways: by the value of items allegedly stolen, by the kind of items stolen, or by prior convictions for theft Value
  • Under $100: 2nd Degree Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail
  • $100-$300: 1st Degree Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail
  • $300-$20,000: 3rd Degree Felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison
  • $20,000-$100,000: 2nd Degree Felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison
  • $100,000+: 1st Degree Felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison
Prior Convictions
  • 1 prior: 1st Degree Misdemeanor
  • 2 or more prior: 3rd Degree Felony
Types of Items
  • Taking specific items such as interstate cargo, a firearm, or motor vehicle, among others can cause your case to be upgraded to a felony.

But I didn’t leave the store/I brought the items back, how can they still charge me? Committing a theft does not require that you leave the store with items. The statute requires the State Attorney to prove that you took possession of the items and intended to take them, even if only temporarily, without permission from the owner. I offered to pay for the items afterwards, does that mean charges get dropped? No. At this point, you have already committed a theft because you intended to take the items. Even if you pay afterwards, you can still be charged with theft. I received a letter from the store asking for money or they will pursue action against me. If I pay, do my charges get dropped? No! The State Attorney makes the decision whether to file criminal charges or not.

The store is asking for money to cover their “losses” and “cost of investigation” for the time and effort spent investigating and handling the theft. The store cannot “drop charges” just because you paid them money. I was trespassed because they thought I was stealing, but the charges are dropped and I am innocent. I can go back now, right? Probably not. Call the store and ask how long the trespass warning is in effect. A business has the right to trespass you for almost any reason. Even if your charges are dropped, you are probably still trespassed from the store, possibly forever. You have no legal right to force a private business to allow you onto their property, even if the reason you were trespassed in the first place seems wrongful or like a mistake. If you go back, you may then be arrested and charged with Trespass. If you are charged with a theft case and have questions, call Colbert Law for a free consultation at (407) 705-3220.