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Shoplifting: Harmless act or cause for concern?

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2020 | Criminal Defense Process

Shoplifting is a common crime in Florida. In some cases, the shoplifter is a teen who wanted something they couldn’t afford; in other cases, it is someone with a history of stealing, drug addiction or mental illness.

In other words, shoplifting can be a one-time transgression or a sign of a much larger issue. In either case, though, it can result in criminal charges that only make a person’s situation worse if convicted.

Motivation to shoplift and criminal penalties

Because people shoplift for different reasons, there is a range of outcomes when a person is charged. Some penalties are reserved for specific situations when they are likely to be more effective.

For instance, a felony charge and prison sentence are hardly appropriate for a teen without a criminal record acting out to get something their parents wouldn’t buy for them. Under these circumstances, the courts may be less likely to seek an aggressive sentence.

However, if a person has a history of shoplifting to support an addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling, the courts are typically less willing to be lenient because of the previous offenses and likelihood of reoffending.

People with a compulsion to steal fall into another category of shoplifters. Often, these people steal because they suffer from kleptomania or another disorder. Those in this category may face criminal consequences, but they could also seek treatment as a part of their sentence to reduce charges or penalties.

Possible consequences of shoplifting in Florida

As outlined in this article about Florida shoplifting laws, the two factors that impact a person’s situation most are:

  1. The value of the goods stolen
  2. The presence or absence of a person’s criminal record.

Broadly speaking, someone convicted of shoplifting something small for the first time can be looking at a misdemeanor charge, fines and possible jail time of up to 60 days.

As the value of stolen property increases, and if a person has a history of shoplifting, the consequences become more severe. In these cases, a person could face thousands of dollars in fines, a prison sentence and loss of their driver’s license.

This information should illustrate the importance of keeping a shoplifting allegation off your record and securing legal guidance to defend against charges and avoid unnecessarily harsh penalties.