Have you been arrested for shoplifting or retail theft in West Palm Beach?  A person who shoplifts very often is not thinking clearly at the time of the offense.  Maybe you were having a bad day. Maybe you just made an impulsive decision.  Either way, shoplifting is not the end of the world, but you do need a West Palm Beach shoplifting lawyer to help you navigate the criminal justice system in South Florida.  We can help you to try to get the shoplifting charges dropped.   Contact our office at 561-588-2781 for a free consultation.  

Shoplifting and Retail Theft in West Palm Beach

Shoplifting or retail theft can be a classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of the items taken.  Florida statute 812.04 states a person commits theft when:  

1)      He or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:

(a)    Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property, or

(b)    Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.

The criminal justice system requires the state attorney to prove the defendant committed a theft occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. 

What happens after I am arrested for shoplifting in West Palm Beach?

In Palm Beach County, police officers typically issue a Notice to Appear in court to the defendant in lieu of a physical arrest.  A Notice to Appear is a document that requires a defendant to be in court for an Arraignment.  The judge will issue a bench warrant for the defendant's arrest if he or she does not appear for the Arraignment.  We can handle the Arraignment for you so that you do not have to appear. At the Arraignment we will speak to the prosecutor and enter a plea of Not Guilty for you. After the Not Guilty plea, we will get another court date for you. This court date is called a Case Disposition.  Your court case will continue until it is either dismissed or resolved by a plea or a jury trial.

Is shoplifting or retail theft a misdemeanor in West Palm Beach?

Shoplifting is a second-degree misdemeanor when the value of the property is less than $100.00.  Second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail, a $500 fine and six months of probation.  A person who is on probation cannot leave the county without permission from their probation officer or the judge.

Shoplifting is a first-degree misdemeanor when the value of the stolen property is $100 to less than $750.00.  First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in the county jail, a $1,000.00 fine and one year of county probation.  Additionally, a second petit theft or shoplifting offense is a first- degree misdemeanor, even if the value of the property is less than $100.00.

Is shoplifting or retail theft a felony?

Shoplifting or retail theft is a third-degree felony when the value of the stolen items exceeds $750 but is less than $20,000.00. Third degree felonies are punishable by up to five years in state prison, five years of probation and a $5,000.00 fine.  Additionally, a person who has two prior petit theft (including retail theft) convictions commits felony retail theft regardless of the value of stolen property.

Shoplifting Store Ban

Shoplifting can happen at any store, but it often occurs at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, clothing stores and department stores.  If you have been arrested or given a notice to appear, you will not be allowed to return to the store.  Returning to the store can result in your arrest for trespassing.

Will my license be suspended if I am convicted of shoplifting or retail theft?

Yes, the Florida theft statute, states “Every judgement of guilty of a petit theft shall provide for the suspension of the convicted person's driver license.”   The court shall forward the driver license to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.   

The first suspension of a driver license for theft shall be for a period of up to six months.  The second or subsequent suspension of a driver license shall be for a period of one year.

Can I get my shoplifting charge expunged or sealed in Florida?

Yes, you are eligible to have the shoplifting charge expunged, or cleared from your record, if the shoplifting charge gets dismissed.  Additionally, you cannot have any prior convictions.  An expungement erases the charge.  It is as if the offense never occurred. You can then legally deny it ever happened.

What are the defenses to shoplifting or retail theft in Florida?

The statute for shoplifting in Florida requires the defendant to have the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of property.  A defendant who simply forgets to pay for an item, if believed by a jury, cannot be guilty of theft. For example, a person who forgets to pay for items at the bottom of a shopping cart does not commit theft. Additionally, a person who forgets to scan items at a self-checkout is not guilty of theft. The value of the property must also correspond to offense level.  For example, a person is not guilty of felony theft if the value of the property is less than $750.00, unless he or she has multiple prior theft convictions.

How can I get my shoplifting charges dropped?

Call Bottari & Doyle, P.A. to speak to a West Palm Beach shoplifting attorney at 561-588-2781 for a free case review – we will be able to tell you if your charges can get dropped through participation in the Palm Beach or Broward county diversion program.